Gesthuizen: 'Judicial test essential to cooperation over criminal law in Europe’

13 June 2012

Gesthuizen: 'Judicial test essential to cooperation over criminal law in Europe’

‘It’s bad that the Netherlands will from now on be obliged to cooperate in the collection of evidence at the request of another EU member state, without this being subject to the judgement of our courts. Legal protection for the Dutch citizen is being steadily eroded.’ So says SP Member of Parliament Sharon Gesthuizen, who is incensed that her proposal for improved legal protection for Dutch people in relation to cooperation over criminal law in Europe failed yesterday to win support from either the outgoing governing centre-right parties, or the centre-left Labour Party.

Sharon GesthuizenYesterday a vote was taken in the Dutch national parliament on the European Evidence Warrant, which will replace the traditional request for legal assistance. From now onwards the Netherlands will be obliged to cooperate with such a warrant issued by another member state, seizing goods and papers and forwarding them to the country in question, with the aim of providing proof in criminal cases. This may involve, for example, taking fingerprints or DNA-profiles, but also the entire administrative records of a firm. The possibilities of refusing such cooperation are limited and there is no provision for a judicial test. The official state Council for the Judiciary is amongst a number of bodies which have expressed concern over the lack of legal protection.

Gesthuizen supports the creation of an effective system of cooperation over criminal law in Europe, but is vehemently opposed to the stripping away of the Dutch citizen’s legal protection. ‘We are seeing the problems involved with the European Arrest Warrant,’ she says. ‘People are sometimes handed over for trivial offences to countries such as Poland where prison conditions are poor. My proposal is an attempt to prevent this. In my view the Dutch courts must look into necessity and proportionality. This would provide an important guarantee for the Dutch citizen. It’s just a shame that Labour, the Christian Democrats and the two liberal parties don’t see things that way.’

Gesthuizen is demanding that the European Evidence Warrant for criminal cases, which is currently being debated in the European Parliament, include improved guarantees of legal protection. SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong will be arguing the same case in the EP itself.

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