The creation of a European Arrest Warrant forms part of the legislative programme aimed at establishing an 'area of freedom, security and justice' in the European Union.
The European Parliament voted on the 6th February 2002, and adopted the proposal by 484 votes 34.
The idea of the proposal is that judicial authorities in the Member States will execute each other's request for arrest and extradition. The member state that receives the request will no longer be allowed to check whether the arresting country has acted according to the law in investigating and gathering evidence as well as in the criminal procedure.
It largely abolishes the dual incrimination principle, meaning that a Member State will have to extradite, even for an offence which is not punishable under its own criminal law. and sets a time limit of 90 days for extradition.
The European Arrest Warrant applies to a wider range of offences that previous extradition agreements. It makes surrender a judicial, rather than a political process.
Many of the Greens voted against the report in the Parliament on the 6th February.
The idea of the proposal is that when justice systems are so similar that it should not matter where one is prosecuted or convicted, then a European Arrest Warrant is a logical step. However, this is still not the case. There are still no minimum standards for the penal process in member states, and therefore the arrest warrant poses a risk to basic human rights.
While the process would be quicker and more efficient, as extradition would be automatic, this removes important safeguards.
The 11th September has caused this proposal to be rushed in prematurely
The process under which this report is being adopted was speeded up following the 11th September attacks. This proposal was published by the Commission in conjunction with a proposal for a Council framework decision on combating terrorism, which the Parliament voted on at the same time.
The Greens believe that the pre-11th September logic should be restored. They
do agree with the importance of combating terrorism, and so that the arrest
warrant should be introduced for terrorist offences immediately. However it
should be applied only to terrorist offences until such time as common minimum
standards are introduced for certain aspects of procedural law.
1) The requirement for minimum legal guarantees before arrest warrant introduced was not agreed.
2) Sir Neil MacCormick MEP's (EFA - Scottish National Party) amendment that will insert essential safeguards before the European Arrest warrant is brought into being. He has argued the case in favour of creating a form of European "habeas corpus". "If a court can order that a person be detained and sent to trial in another country under a European arrest Warrant, surely that Court must have power to revoke its order if it is turned into an instrument for abuse of rights. No country should tolerate that its Courts become the powerless instruments to facilitate human rights violations in another country." Sir Neil MacCormick MEP