European Parliament right to demand amendments to European Arrest Warrant

27 February 2014

European Parliament right to demand amendments to European Arrest Warrant

The SP has for years criticised the way in which the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is applied by the member states. The directive means that Dutch people who are sought by other member states’ authorities in connection with a criminal offence can be extradited without any prior judicial review. ‘The European Parliament now recognises that the rights of suspects are not properly guaranteed in this and that it means that it is too easy for people to be extradited to another member state for relatively trivial offences,’ says SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong. ‘Now the ball’s in the court of the European Commission and the Council of Ministers, and I want to hear from them before the European elections what they are going to do about this.’

Dennis de JongIn practice member states make too frequent use of the EAW. Poland has applied it, to take an example, to countless trivial transgressions of the law, for which it was not intended. There is in addition a lack of guarantees for the suspects, who are sometimes denied legal counsel, or are assigned lawyers who are unable to speak a mutually intelligible language, while conditions in places of detention are often far below any acceptable standard. ‘These practices fly in the face of people’s dignity and must be ended as soon as possible,’ says De Jong. ‘The European Parliament now recognises these problems and would give the member states the right to refuse requests for extradition if the human rights of suspects are in danger of being abused, or in the case of relatively insignificant offences. I really hope that this standpoint will be adopted by the European Commission and the Council of Ministers.’

From the very start the SP has had fundamental criticisms of the EAW, as Dennis de Jong explains: ‘The EAW puts the cart before the horse. It means we’re saying that we have unlimited confidence in the legal system in other member states. Yet there are still far too few agreements regarding the procedural rights of suspects. This can in practice lead to people being placed in degrading situations.’

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