The European Arrest Warrant needs serious reform, not Reding's quick fixes

27-Nov-2013 @ 17:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Plans to give greater rights to suspected criminals,announced today by the European Commission, are meddlesome and fail to address the real problems in Europe's justice system, Timothy Kirkhope MEP,Conservative justice and home affairs spokesman, said.

"The proposals aim to give people facing criminal charges a presumption of innocence, access to legal aid and the right to be present at a trial, especially when subjected to a European Arrest Warrant.

However Mr Kirkhope complained that the proposals, announced by Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, failed to address the strong need for major reform of the European Arrest Warrant but focused instead on meddling with the minutiae of national criminal justice systems.

He suggested she get her own house in order before seeking to create what she called "a true European continent of justice".

Mr Kirkhope said: "The European Arrest Warrant has been an invaluable tool in bringing cross-border criminals and terrorists to justice. It has helped cut extradition times significantly across the EU.However, it is widely acknowledged that it needs a radical rethink in terms of how it is used, on the checks and balances in place and the rights afforded to people who are accused.

"Commissioner Reding is wrong to think there is a quick-fix answer such as legal aid or the presumption of innocence – things which surely should exist in any functioning democracy.

"The commission should get behind the many EU governments who want to see safeguards built into the Arrest Warrant to ensure its proportionate use. This should be the priority, not meddling in national criminal justice systems.

"Pan-European harmonisation of European criminal justice is the wrong answer. Fixing the fundamental problems associated with the European Arrest Warrant is the right answer. Mrs Reding wants to get her own house in order before seeking to interfere in national criminal justice measures."

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