The European Arrest Warrant (EAW), an instrument of collaboration between the police services of all European Union member states, has uncovered various angles regarding the abuse of fundamental human rights. Although Soteria International has raised the issue of the faults within the EAW in multiple forums, the problem has yet to be solved. Many other human rights organizations, and our collaborators, are concerned with this issue.
On February 7, Finnish MEP Hannu Takkula, in collaboration with Human Rights Without Frontiers, organized an event at the European Parliament, titled “European Arrest Warrant in Question: Cases in Romania and Other Countries.” The aim of the event was to revive the discussion of the flaws of the European Arrest Warrant, which although an important tool for combatting crime, can also be seen as undermining the basic principles of fairness and justice.
Jago Russell, Chief Executive of Fair Trials, stated that it has never been more important for countries to cooperate to fight terrorism and crime, and that the EU needs proper tools in order to fight crime. The EU portrays itself as having respect for human rights, yet the flaws of the EAW are undermining its effectiveness and the human rights of European citizens—and this is a statement which has been acknowledged by commissions. There was a growth in interest in the European Union on the EAW, with a report written by former MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford, titled "Revising the European Arrest Warrant" in 2013. However, the European Commission did not respond to the report, at all, and the debate must be revived in EU institutions. Mr. Russel provided the conference attendees with three proposals for addressing flaws of the EAW, regarding: 1) Proportionality, 2) Access to a lawyer, and 3) Detention. In the case of ‘proportionality,’ the parliament should be pushing for clear legal requirements for publishing an EAW. This concerns issuing EAWs for petty crimes, which are completely disproportionate for the time and money spent to apprehend the individual in question. In terms of having ‘access to a lawyer,’ the convicted should be required to have access to a lawyer in, both, the member state in which he/she is arrested and the member state which is requesting his/her arrest. This has been addressed as per the legal aid directive, yet member states are not obliged to implement for another 2 ½ years. With respect to Mr. Russell’s point on ‘detention,’ he highlights that the failure of prison systems in certain member states undermines the EAW. As human rights must take precedence to mutual recognition, a member state can refuse to extradite an apprehended individual if he/she is likely to be subjected to inhumane or degrading treatment (Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights). Mr. Russell suggested that there should be minimum EU standards for prison systems, and suggested that one of the key reasons for overcrowding in prisons is due to the unnecessary detainment of individuals in pre-trial periods.
Willy Fautré, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers Int’l presented the human rights argument to refuse the extradition of an apprehended individual due to the risk of an unfair trial and poor detention conditions. He highlighted the case of Sweden vs. Romania where a Romanian refugee in Sweden was arrested in France—for the same charges he was offered protection in Sweden—and extradited to Romania. Mr. Fautré described the conditions in Romania, in which APADOR (Association for the Defense of Human Rights in Romania-the Helsinki Committee) reported that prison occupancy was at 150-200%, with buildings constructed in the 19th century and very poor conditions; and of more than 3000 complaints filed against police, only 14 complaints went to trial and only 4 of these trials resulted in a police officer being convicted. He also highlighted a current case in which a high profile prisoner in poor health, Dan Adamescu, 68 years, was repeatedly refused healthcare, resulting in his death only a few weeks ago. In addition, due to an EAW issued for his son, Alexander Adamescu, on basically fictive charges of compliance, his son could not attend his funeral. Considering the poor detention conditions and questionable situation with regards to the autonomy of the justice system, Mr. Fautré asked, should extradition to Romania be implemented?
Oliver Pahnecke, a lawyer and PhD candidate at Middlesex University, London, discussed the role of the strong interest and participation of the Romanian Secret Services in the judiciary. He stated that, the representatives of security do not seem to understand that judges do not serve the state, but the people, and therefore must see the institution and individuals as equals. In fact, EU funding was used to train 1000 judges and prosecutors at the Secret Service Academy, which likely has had a large impact on the judiciary. However, when the Union of Magistrates requested that the Secret Service disclose their involvement in the judiciary, it was denied on the grounds of classified information. It is, therefore, important that the judiciary remains attentive to the possibility of conflict of interest of judges; and because this is not just one case, but possibly 1000, the problem is on a systemic level, which means that the issue must be addressed from this perspective. In addition, find out what biotapping is
Eeva Heikkila, a barrister specialized in defending faux international arrest warrants, spoke from a humanistic perspective detailing the case of Alexander Adamescu, a German/Romanian citizen with an EAW issued for compliancy in his father, Dan Adamescu’s, crimes. She described the unnecessary actions of the British police, previously informed of Alexander’s whereabouts, when apprehending him. Although he had contacted a lawyer who had informed the British police of his willingness to cooperate, prior to an event during which he was to speak, a van of policemen intercepted and arrested him. From the Romanian side, Adamescu’s father’s arrest seems suspicious considering that he was immensely successful, independent of the government, and owner of a newspaper which was one of the most respected institutions in Romania. The newspaper was independent, allowed journalists to speak freely, and uncovered numerous corruption scandals within the government. Therefore, in 2014 when the Romanian Prime Minister publicly labeled him as a criminal in the media and he was arrested in a ‘commando-type’ operation, once again, in front of the media, his right to a fair trial was already jeopardized. In Alexander’s case, the Romanian government has summoned him through emails and a poster on the court room door in Romania, where he clearly will not see the summons. From a point of view of personal damage, their family has lost all of their assets, which is roughly 500 million euro, all of their businesses, including the newspaper, and can no longer live in Romania.
The European Commission—the institution implementing the EAW—has repeatedly emphasized that this instrument is to be utilized in accordance with the fundamental human rights. However, Soteria International has noticed in multiple instances that this is not the case and that not all member states consider the proportionality of the crimes when implementing the EAW. Soteria International hopes that the work carried out by human rights organizations, as for example through an event such as this, will be useful in helping correct the flaws in applying the rule of law and respect for the fundamental human rights.
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