The European Arrest Warrant

In 2002 the European Union created the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), a fast-track system for surrendering people from one European country to another to face trial or serve a prison sentence.

The European Arrest WarrantThe EAW has removed many of the traditional safeguards in the extradition process. If a court in one country demands a person’s arrest and extradition, courts and police in other countries must act on it. In 2009, this fast track extradition system was used to extradite over 4,000 people across the EU (700 people from the UK alone).

Although it was intended to deliver justice, the current system is actually resulting in cases of serious injustice. Our own casework repeatedly demonstrates the human cost of EU extradition. Fair Trials International will continue to press for an EU extradition system which is both fair and effective. Through our Justice in Europe campaign, we are succeeding in making the case for reform.

Fair Trials International has campaigned for reform of the European Arrest Warrant since 2009, with publication of our major report – The European Arrest Warrant seven years on: the case for reform – in May 2011.

Our campaign has started to achieve results. In January 2014, the European Parliament adopted a report calling for the Commission to put forward legislative proposals to introduce new safeguards to prevent injustice in the operation of the European Arrest Warrant.

This EU-level development has been mirrored in changes to the UK’s extradition law, adopted in March 2014, to prevent disporportionate  use of the arrest warrant for minor offences and allowing judges to refuse to surrender someone to another member state when they may be likely to spend long periods in detention while waiting for the trial to commence.

In our major new report published in March 2014 – Stockholm’s Sunset: new horizons for Justice in Europe – reform of the European Arrest Warrant was highlighted as a key priority for EU justice policy.