European Parliament backs SP call to amend European investigation order

10 May 2012

European Parliament backs SP call to amend European investigation order

SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong says that he is pleased with the support from the European Parliament Committee on Justice and Home Affairs for amendments to the European criminal investigation order. The criminal investigation order directive will govern the exchange of evidence between EU member states. ‘How evidence may legally be gathered touches on the principles of the rule of law,’ says De Jong. ‘Happily I have been able to persuade my colleagues that there are a number of problems with the proposal that needed solving. So there will now be no possibility for member states to ask other countries to gather evidence by means of dubious investigative methods.’

The amendments represent in the SP’s view important guarantees against the gathering of evidence in ways which are unacceptable. ‘We know that the police and judicial authorities in some EU countries don’t always function well,’ says De Jong. ‘Building in guarantees is for this reason a necessary step to prevent extradition and prosecution on the basis of evidence assembled using dubious methods. My proposal will, for example, exclude the sort of working methods which led in the Netherlands to the IRT affair, when the police allowed a major consignment of drugs to enter the country. Another of my proposals was also adopted, giving defence counsel the right to ask for evidence from other countries. This will restore the principle of equal rights for prosecution and defence.’

Despite this success the SP continues to point to problems which can accompany intensive cooperation between police forces and between judicial authorities in different member states. ‘The question of whether a criminal investigation order is proportionate to the alleged offence is extremely important,’ argues De Jong. ‘We are already seeing this problem in practice with the European Arrest Warrant, which has led to Dutch citizens being extradited for minor offences to member states such as Poland, where they may be locked up under appalling conditions. I’ve had support for my proposal for a proportionality test which would avoid this problem.’ De Jong is pleased with the adoption of his amendments but will be keeping a very lose eye on the way in which the directive as a whole is interpreted and enforced.

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