Criminal justice professionals, law enforcement representatives, and academic experts gathered at an International Conference to discuss progress towards harmonising the European approach to cross-border judicial and police cooperation.
European States and institutions with different policies and priorities are intertwined in complex processes at all levels, where mutual agreement instruments are key to avoiding conflicts and maintaining fundamental standards.
When balancing States’ security concerns and the processual rights of individuals in an international panorama, the preventive instruments and measures chosen can often prioritise the first over the latter.
A more efficient application of EU mutual recognition instruments in criminal matters is the goal of the transnational initiatives that brought together around thirty justice professionals and experts from different jurisdictions.
The developments of the PRE-RIGHTS project – “Assessing the impact and performance of preventive measures on EU Directives and Framework Decisions”, took centre stage at the event.
The PRE-RIGHTS consortium is committed to strengthening international cooperation in the legal, administrative and social fields. Anna Marconnato representing the project coordinator, the Central European Initiative (CEI), shared the steps taken to achieve this goal.
With a multi-pronged approach, the project worked to directly increase the capacity of legal practitioners across the consortium countries. As a foundation, solid data was gathered on legal first-line practitioners’ practical experience and knowledge on the implementation of frameworks and instruments like the European Investigation Order (EIO) and the European Arrest Warrant (EAW).
The initiative also organised “Living Labs”, where multi-agency and multidisciplinary experts met in guided panels to elaborate creative solutions and proposals to facilitate using the existing judicial tools.
Ultimately, with the knowledge acquired in this process, PRE-RIGHTS developed training courses that were put into practice next to practitioners in Italy, Portugal, Romania, Bulgaria, Malta, Germany, and Greece.
Additionally, Ms Marconnato introduced the Super TOOLKIT, an online platform jointly developed by the projects PRE-RIGHTS and JPCOOPS. This resource is a training hub for judges, lawyers, prosecutors, law enforcement agents, and others in the judicial field.
The platform is conceived as a tool to enhance practitioners’ expertise and keep them updated in the field of law and security. It covers different topics on radicalisation, judicial,
and police cooperation, with relevant training courses (including the ones developed in the scope of PRE-RIGHTS) and materials from other European projects such as SAT-LAW, J-SAFE, and FAIRNESS.
Other guest speakers and project partners shared their insights about several projects’ topics and results, such as the European Arrest Warrant and preventive measures in Europe, fundamental rights, and cross-border cooperation in criminal justice.
Sergio Bianchi, from the project partner Agenfor International, presented a panel on the Pre and Post-Trial Alternative Measures in Europe. He drew attention to the fact that the most used instrument in the EU is the EAW. Accounting for the severity of the measure that calls for extradition, it is unnecessarily overused. Therefore there is a need to use the proportionality assessment to apply the right alternative measure, which in most cases could be the European Supervision Order or the Framework Decision 2008/947/JHA.
Dr Adriano Martufi, a guest speaker from Leiden University (Netherlands), underlined the importance of bearing in mind that in the context of fundamental rights, the principle of mutual recognition itself can create tensions. Even if this principle is considered the engine of criminal justice in the EU, it implies the duty to recognise judicial decisions made by authorities of other member states. Therefore, the automaticity of this principle, linked to the presumption of mutual trust, can be an obstacle to guaranteeing that fellow states observe fundamental rights.
The PRE-RIGHTS Final International Conference was entitled “Preventive Measures and Cross-Border Judicial and Police Cooperation”. The event came to build up awareness of alternative measures to the EAW in alignment with the project’s goal of empowering even more relevant professionals in the area and commitment to safeguarding fundamental rights.
Overall, all participants in this event agreed that the most important idea is to increase the competencies and knowledge of prison staff, judges and police to address prevention from a legal and procedural point of view.
Know more about this project
Assessing the impact and performance of preventive measures on EU Directives and Framework Decisions
PRE-RIGHTS project is led by the Central European Initiative (CEI) and partnered by a transnational consortium including IPS_Innovative Prison Systems (Portugal), the Center for the Study of Democracy (Bulgaria), Agenfor International (Italy), the University of Malta (Malta), the Bremen Senate of Justice and Constitution (Germany), the National Intelligence Academy Mihai Viteazul (ANIMV – Academia Nationala De Informatii) (Romania), and KEMEA – Centre for Security Studies (Greece).
For further information about the project, please visit its website.
Alternative pre-trial detention measures: Judicial awareness and cooperation towards the realisation of common standards
Judicial cooperation for the enhancement of mutual recognition regarding probation measures and alternative sanctions
Implementation of the Stockholm’s Roadmap in cases of terrorism and radicalisation
European Arrest Warrant