The EU has published a report, ‘Rights in practice: access to a lawyer and procedural rights in criminal and European arrest warrant proceedings’ This report details the extent to which fundamental human rights, in the context of criminal justice, are upheld across the EU. This includes the impact on those facing extradition proceedings.
Why is this important?
Protecting the rights of anyone suspected or accused of a crime is an essential element of the rule of law. Courts, prosecutors and police officers need to have the power and means to enforce the law. However, trust in the outcomes of their efforts will quickly erode without effective safeguards to control how their powers are actually used.
What rights should be protected?
Such safeguards take on various forms. Everyone is presumed to be innocent until found guilty by a court of law. People have the right to remain silent and not incriminate themselves. They should be told why they are being arrested or what they are being charged with. They should also be told what their rights are, including that they have the right to a lawyer. In certain situations, people also have a right to interpretation and translation.
What were the findings?
Some of the key findings include:
- The police inform defendants of their rights but practices vary. These range from written to oral information, including leaflets, which may be difficult to understand. Member States should ensure defendants properly understand what their rights are, and provide information in writing and orally as soon as they are a suspect. They should also pay attention to people who may have difficulties due to language or a disability, for example.
- Very often defendants receive minimal or unclear information about the charges against them. This makes it difficult for them to defend themselves. The police should properly, clearly, and fully inform suspects of their crimes and why they were arrested, as soon as possible.
- Receiving legal assistance promptly and directly does not also always occur. This is particularly true for people that have been locked up. Member States should ensure all defendants receive prompt, direct and confidential access to a lawyer before they question jailed defendants.
- Sometimes the police treat suspects as witnesses or informally question them. However, this deprives suspects of their right to remain silent and not to incriminate themselves. Member States should treat all suspects as suspects to respect their rights.
European Arrest Warrants
The report also looks at European Arrest Warrants that come from another EU Member State. As well as the issues above, defendants also face rights issues arising from having two countries involved.
- Linguistic differences often make it difficult for defendants to understand their rights when it comes to warrants and their right to consent to be transferred abroad for questioning. Member States should provide translation and interpretation services so that defendants can fully understand the charges against them and what the European Arrest Warrant entails.
- Defendants often have difficulties getting legal representation in both countries. This can be due to linguistic differences, as well as the police’s lack of knowledge about other countries’ legal systems and unwillingness to interfere in another country’s jurisdiction. Authorities in the country that process the warrant should help defendants get legal assistance in the country that issued the warrant. Member States could provide legal association lists when issuing the warrant.
The importance of lawyers
Our lawyers are trained to know your rights and perhaps more importantly, insist that they are upheld. We believe in proactive and robust defence, at every stage of the proceedings.
Whilst the UK fares well compared to some other EU countries, we can never be complacent. Time and time again we come across cases where fundamental rights have been ignored, often to the great detriment of the suspect or defendant.
If you need specialist advice in relation to any criminal investigation or prosecution, from the initial investigation through to court proceedings, please get in touch. Call John Howey on 020 7388 1658 or email email@example.com. Let us help.Read More
Listening to people talking to you using words and phrases difficult to understand can be very uncomfortable. This situation could be even worse if you are in serious legal trouble, for example if you are facing extradition.
So here is a guide to some of the most common words you will come across:
1. Requested person; the person who is wanted by the country who have issued the warrant.
2. Judicial Authority; the people who have issued the warrant. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) represents the Judicial Authority in this country.
3. District Judge; usually called the ‘DJ’, he or she is a qualified lawyer who hears the case and makes the decisions.
4. European Arrest Warrant (EAW); this is the actual document that has all of the information about the person who is wanted. For example what offence they are wanted for, when it happened, where it happened and so on.
5. Accusation; if you are wanted to go for a trial, and have not been found guilty already. In other words, you are ‘accused’.
6. Conviction; if you have already pleaded guilty to the offence, or been found guilty, you are convicted.
7. Bail; when the DJ decides you can go home until you are next in court or are taken back to the country that wants you.
8. Consent; at the beginning of the case you will be asked if you consent to your extradition. In other words, do you agree to it? If you do, the DJ will order your extradition and that is the end of the case. If you give your consent, you cannot appeal and you should be extradited within 10 days.
9. Issues; the reasons why you should not be extradited. The extradition Act lists the reasons that can be given, including Human Rights issues. ‘I don’t want to go’ is not a reason under the Act.
10. Full hearing; This is the hearing where the DJ hears the evidence, listens to your evidence and to what the lawyers say about the issues. After that, the DJ will decide if you are going to be extradited.
11. Judgment; the DJ writes down his decision. This is the judgment. You will probably get this on a different day to the full hearing. The judgment has the facts of the case and the arguments put forward by both sides, the law and the reasons for the decision.
12. Discharge; if the DJ decides you do not have to be extradited, you are discharged and are free to go
13. Permission to Appeal; if the DJ decides you should be extradited, you can ask the High Court for permission to appeal.
How can we help?
Please contact us on 0207 388 1658, or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to discuss your extradition matter with us further, or to find out whether you would be eligible for legal aid for extradition matters. We have a dedicated team of lawyers specialising in extradition who are here to help you.
John Howey, Senior SolicitorRead More