Beyond Surrender aims to look at the use and abuse of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) and its impact on the life of the defendants and their families. The project, funded by the EU Commission, is being coordinated by Fair Trials and implemented in cooperation with four partner organisations in Lithuania (Lithuanian Human Rights Monitoring Institute), Poland (Helsinki Committee in Poland), Romania (APADOR-CH) and Spain (Rights International Spain).
The project will be implemented during April 2016-February 2018.
While the simplified system of surrender established by the EAW Framework Decision has undoubtedly had success in preventing the EU’s open borders from being exploited by those seeking to evade justice, the past eleven years have highlighted significant problems in its operation. The European Commission, the European Parliament, certain Member States and civil society have recognised that the main problems relate to:
- Disproportionate use of EAWs;
- Excessive and unjustified use of pre-trial detention; and
- The failure of issuing states adequately to protect human rights.
Member States have responded to these problems by adopting different approaches to implementation, while judges in executing states increasingly face the dilemma of the proper relationship between the principle of mutual recognition and a commitment to fundamental rights and other principles of EU law. After decisions to surrender are made, judges and lawyers in the executing state do not generally monitor what follows, including whether assurances (where given) are upheld, whether fundamental rights are enjoyed and whether the outcome confirms that the EAW was the right instrument to have used.
The overall aim of this project is to use the human stories of experiences beyond surrender to document the impact of a EAW on people’s lives and to inform future legal and policy developments. Our objectives will be to:
- Provide a human insight into the treatment of people following their surrender under accusation EAWs;
- Raise the awareness of judicial actors and legal professionals of the practical relationship between the minimum standards in the Roadmap Directives, the ESO and the operation of the EAW FD;
- Identify and illustrate good and bad practice in post-surrender treatment to support effective implementation of the EAW FD, the Roadmap Directives and the ESO; and
- Inform future EU justice work to create minimum standards as a sound basis for mutual recognition.
Fair Trials and its partners will identify cases of individuals post-surrender through contact with local lawyers, bar associations and legal aid boards as well as via their own monitoring of detention centres.
20 cases in each project country will undergo post-surrender monitoring to obtain information on the: enjoyment of Roadmap rights; use of pre-trial detention or alternatives; proportionality of the EAW; and human impact of surrender.
Each Partner will produce a short report on the monitored cases, identifying patterns of good and bad practice and placing key findings in a broader domestic context. The report will set out recommendations for domestic stakeholders and valuable information for judicial stakeholders in other Member States.
Detailed documentation will be produced on 3 cases in each project country, demonstrating the human impact of surrender and placing procedural rights protections in the context of real cross-border cases. Materials will include case summaries and a short video featuring, where possible, personal testimony.
Fair Trials will produce a regional report highlighting common themes and using the human stories to support concrete reform proposals and demonstrate examples of good practice. A composite video and a booklet summary will be produced which, with the report, will be launched at a European Parliament event attended by MEPs, Commission officials and Member State representatives. Partners will also host launch events for the country reports/videos for domestic stakeholders.
Co-funded by the Criminal Justice Programme
of the European Commission