Victims Of EU Extradition Laws To Give Evidence In Parliament
Four clients of Fair Trials International who have been affected by the European Arrest Warrant (the EU’s fast-track extradition system) will appear tomorrow before Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights to explain its impact on their lives. The Committee has invited this panel, and the human rights charity Fair Trials International, to give evidence on the operation of the Arrest Warrant and proposals for reform.
Catherine Heard, Head of Policy at Fair Trials International said:
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to share with the Committee our concerns about the Arrest Warrant. Our clients have compelling stories to tell about how the arrest warrant has infringed their fundamental human rights and why we need to work with our EU partners to reform this “no questions asked” extradition system. Vital safeguards are needed to ensure the Arrest Warrant delivers, rather than undermines, justice in Europe.”
Fair Trials International recognises that judicial and police cooperation is essential in order to tackle serious cross-border crime, but this should not be done at the expense of basic human rights. For too long, the European Arrest Warrant has placed the speedy surrender of people to other European countries above the fundamental rights of the individual. The Government’s extradition review and the Joint Committee’s inquiry provide an important opportunity, not only to recommend the changes needed to improve the system, but also to learn the lessons of the European Arrest Warrant so they are not repeated in the context of future EU proposals.
For more information please contact Fair Trials International on +44 (0)20 7822 2370 or +44 (0)7950 849 851
Notes to Editors
- Fair Trials International is a human rights charity which provides assistance to people arrested in a country other than their own and campaigns for reform to fight the underlying causes of injustice in cross-border cases.
- The Joint Committee on Human Rights, chaired by Dr Hywel Francis MP, is conducting an inquiry into the human rights implications of UK extradition policy. Full details on the terms of reference for the inquiry
- Fair Trials International will be giving evidence on the 1st February at 2.20pm in Committee Room 15 (Palace of Westminster). FTI’s clients will be appearing before the Committee at 3.20pm. The meeting is open to the press and to members of the public.
- To view Fair Trials International’s written submission to the Joint Committee on Human Rights please download below.
- A copy of Fair Trials International’s response to the extradition review panel is also available to download and includes recommended legislative reforms to the European Arrest Warrant.
- The following clients are providing evidence at the committee session:Deborah Dark
British grandmother wanted to serve a prison sentence in France for a twenty year old conviction she knew nothing about. Despite the fact that courts in both the UK and Spain ruled that it would be unjust to extradite her to France, Deborah remained subject to the EAW and was unable to leave the UK for 3 years.
Edmond faced extradition to Italy to serve a sentence for a crime he could not have committed as he was in at work in the UK, when the crime took place. Yet his extradition was ordered and only last minute campaigning and high level intervention prevented him spending months or years on remand in Italy away from his wife and three young children.
Father of twenty-one year old student, Andrew Symeou, extradited on the basis of evidence obtained by police brutality. Andrew was extradited to Greece despite compelling evidence he is innocent. He spent a year in horrendous prison conditions after being denied bail solely because he was a non-national.
A 27 year old British national from Dorset extradited to and imprisoned in Budapest following the failure of a business venture, although no decision had yet been made to prosecute him.
- The European Arrest Warrant is a fast-track system for surrendering people from one European country to another to face trial or serve a prison sentence. It 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 5000 people across the EU (700 people from the UK alone).
- Justice in Europe campaign:
Fair Trials International has long campaigned for legislation at EU level on basic defence rights, because it is the only way to require Member States to deliver on their fair trial obligations, both to nationals and non-nationals. We use the real-life experiences of the people we assist to show the need for these measures.