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Event

Low-Level Offences and Procedural Rights in Europe

Thursday, 4 Mar 2021 17:00 - 18:30 CET

Online

During the COVID-19 pandemic, police and prosecution pursued punishment of violations of COVID-related measures. Often, these prosecutions disproportionately affected people of colour, people experiencing homelessness or poverty, or other groups that are often targeted by policing. Prosecutions for such “minor offences” do not always have “minor” consequences: they have very serious consequences for people, including incarceration. Yet under domestic and European law people charged with low-level offences are not granted the same procedural protections as people charged with more serious offences—often because the law assumes that these offences do not carry serious consequences.

Nicole Bögelein, a sociologist, will talk about the types of offences punished and the consequences for people of having outstanding fines. Mitali Nagrecha will present research findings demonstrating a lack of procedural protections in low-level prosecutions in Germany. Sarah Ganty will bring a U.S.-Belgium comparative view and will argue for the use of anti-discrimination law to challenge these practices. She’ll also talk about how the European Court of Human Rights recently held that blanket bans on begging violate people’s right to privacy and dignity, focusing their analysis on how the enforcement impacted someone experiencing poverty. Christiaan van Veen will talk about a groundbreaking case in the Netherlands, commonly known as the “SyRI case,” in which the Dutch courts invalidated the Dutch government’s use of an algorithm to identify welfare fraud that resulted in the government targeting poor neighbourhoods and neighbourhoods of colour. Finally, Mohammad Wa Baile was racially profiled by the police in Switzerland and has a case before the Europe Court of Human Rights. He’ll talk about the activism his organisation is doing in Switzerland against racial profiling and other forms of discrimination in criminal legal systems.

Speakers:

  • Emmanuelle Debouverie, Fair Trials (moderator)
  • Nicole Bögelein, University of Cologne
  • Sarah Ganty, Yale Law School
  • Mitali Nagrecha, Fair Trials
  • Christiaan van Veen, Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU School of Law
  • Mohammed Wa Baile, Allianz Gegen Racial Profiling Switzerland

This event is a public panel as part of our 2021 Legal Experts Advisory Panel (LEAP) Annual Conference: Power and Punishment in Europe. LEAP is Fair Trials’ European network of experts in criminal justice and human rights which works to promote fair trial rights in Europe. LEAP currently counts some 200 organisational members, with representatives from law firms, CSOs, and academic institutions, covering all 27 EU Member States.

 

This meeting is possible thanks to the financial support of the Justice Programme of the European Union.

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