Defendants on trial will be electronically monitored at home instead of being remanded in prison based on two law proposals aimed at reducing central prison overcrowding.

This means that people accused of rape, murder, paedophilia and drug trafficking could be kept out of prison, warned law commissioner Luiza Christodoulidou Zannetou in her reservations about the legislation promoted by MPs of the House legal affairs committee.

But chairman Nikos Tornaritis assured there will be exceptions.

Electronic bracelets are already used for inmates in the central prisons, hence the responsibility of electronic monitoring of defendants should also be assigned to the prisons, MPs argue.

The two bill proposals are co-signed by all the MPs comprising the House legal affairs committee. In their statements, they explained that apart from alleviating overcrowding, this aims to protect the freedoms of the defendants by providing an alternative to pretrial detention.

In a recent letter to the committee, however, the law commissioner said she disagrees with this move, since this will increase the state budget. Therefore, these proposals are unconstitutional, she said, unless the executive authority approves them.

She also warned that the proposals fail to exclude those accused of serious crimes, thus putting at risk the victims but also society as a whole.

“Τhis amendment in its attempt to create a more victim-friendly system forgets the protection of the victim, of society but more importantly, it affects the fairness of the trial if we consider how easily a suspect living in his home without 24-hour surveillance can influence or intimidate witnesses or even the victim himself,” Zannetou said in her letter.

In response, Disy MP and chairman of the committee Tornaritis said the proposals will include some exemptions for those accused of very serious crimes such as murder, child exploitation and rape.

Electronic monitoring has steadily grown in popularity amongst member states’ criminal justice systems, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) findings show that, due to its dependency on relatively cumbersome technology, only 10 out of the 22 member states that have implemented the instrument make use of electronic monitoring at the pre-trial stage. This includes the UK, apart from Northern Ireland, Greece, France and the Netherlands.