Home > European Arrest Warrant (Application to Third Countries and Amendment) and Extradition (Amendment) Bill 2011. Second stage resumed.

[Oireachtas] European Arrest Warrant (Application to Third Countries and Amendment) and Extradition (Amendment) Bill 2011. Second stage resumed. (14 Jun 2012)

URL: http://www.oireachtas.ie/viewdoc.asp?fn=/documents...


Question again proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”……..

Deputy Terence Flanagan:I support this Bill. It is vital that Ireland has extradition agreements with all countries. The Bill will enable the Government to apply many of the provisions contained within the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 to Norway and Iceland, bringing into action surrender agreements reached in 2006 between these two countries and the EU. It will also cover any agreements that may be reached with non-member states in the future. The amendments contained in the Bill will provide for quicker and easier processing of extradition requests under both Acts. Since the European arrest warrant commenced operation on 1 January 2004, the use of the warrant has increased every year. For example, in 2010, Ireland issued a total of 373 European arrest warrants to 15 countries, the majority of which were issued for Polish nationals, while a further 32 were issued in respect of cases involving Irish nationals. In 2010, some 14 persons who were subject to European arrest warrants were surrendered to the State, including 11 people from the UK. In total, 148 people have been surrendered to the State since the commencement of the system.
The number of people surrendered by the State has also increased considerably since the commencement of the warrant system, with a total of 424 people surrendered in total. In 2004, only two people were surrendered. This compares to a figure of 161 in 2010, which was more than double the number in 2009. This large increase is very welcome, as we do not want people evading justice when they should be arrested to face the full rigours of the law. The large increase is also due to the fact that the Garda Síochána decentralised the European arrest warrant arrangements from the extradition unit in Dublin to local Garda divisions, which had more autonomy and access to local information. This shows the role that local gardaí can play in arresting suspects who are wanted abroad.
In 2010, the Irish authorities issued 51 arrest warrants for the arrest of Irish nationals in other EU states, of whom 26 have so far been returned to the State. The arrest warrants were sought in respect of many serious crimes, such as sexual offences, murder, grievous bodily harm, drug offences, fraud and organised crime. In general, the most common charges cited by EU member states applying for the extradition of foreign nationals living in Ireland are theft, assault and robbery.
Organised crime, particularly human trafficking and drug trafficking, is a serious issue in this country. Drug trafficking is a widespread problem across Europe, and the European arrest warrant is vital in tackling this. Co-operation between the various authorities and police organisations in different countries is essential to ensure criminals are brought to justice. A good example of this co-operation was seen between Ireland and Spain over the past year. At the end of last year, a suspected member of an international criminal gang from Ireland was extradited to Spain to be questioned by Spanish authorities on suspicion of drug trafficking and bringing weapons into the country. Then, earlier this year, Spain agreed to extradite to Ireland a convicted killer who was wanted on charges of firearms possession and handling of stolen goods. Thus, we can see there is increased co-operation in ensuring that people do not evade the law by crossing borders.
Human trafficking is a profitable form of organised crime in Ireland. In 2009, the Garda investigated 68 cases of human trafficking, with a total of nine people being prosecuted for this serious crime. During Operation Sibling, in 2009, the Garda was involved in a joint operation with the Romanian police which resulted in the prosecution of three Romanian nationals on charges of human trafficking. Such co-operation is to be welcomed.
The introduction of the European arrest warrant in 2003 has been described as one of the most significant initiatives of the EU in dealing with criminal matters. The efficiency and effectiveness of the European arrest warrant was witnessed at the end of April, when two members of one of Limerick’s biggest organised crime gangs were arrested at a resort in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian police made the arrests following receipt of information from the Garda. One of the men was wanted by the State to face serious drugs charges and charges of threatening to endanger life. The Garda liaised well with the Bulgarian authorities to ensure the European arrest warrant was executed, and the men were deported to Ireland. Concerns have been expressed more generally about the European arrest warrant by the European Commission. Problems arise in the way certain member states enforce warrants and Irish barristers have expressed concern about the vagueness in the framework decision underlying the European arrest warrant, which was adopted in the months after the events of 11 September 2001.
The European arrest warrant is, however, an essential tool for dealing with organised crime and was welcomed throughout Europe on its introduction. It is vital that the EU’s various police authorities are able to co-operate with each other and the statistics suggest they are doing so. We cannot allow criminals to use borders to evade justice. Organised crime is a serious issue and it is being tackled under the European arrest warrant structure.
 
Deputy Alan Shatter: The review will proceed without delay but, equally, it will be a careful review without undue haste. The frequent amendments to the Act are a caution against the rush to reform. It is desirable that we ensure any difficulties that might be anticipated in so far as possible can be anticipated and addressed in the functioning of the legislation. We all know that the nature of legislation is such that, arising from court judgements or unexpected circumstances, flaws that had not been anticipated are discovered and require further amendment. A comprehensive job will be done and I hope it will prove helpful.
Deputy Humphreys suggested jurisdiction to hear European arrest warrant extradition cases might be transferred to the District Court from the High Court, with a view to reducing cost. This is an interesting suggestion but it cannot be addressed the isolation. The legal and other implications in the proposal, and the question of whether it would realise the apparent savings, require careful consideration. We will address the issue in the review of the legislation. On the surface, it might facilitate the processing of applications with less expense and greater speed, particularly those that are not contended. In my recollection as a legal practitioner, when the District Court exercised certain jurisdiction in extradition matters, it inevitably resulted in a substantial number of cases being the subject to judicial review in the High Court. Rather than providing a more cost effective means of dealing with matters, it ultimately proved to elongate court proceedings and add to legal costs substantially. I am concerned that if this jurisdiction were exercised in the District Court, those who justifiably and properly should be the subject of extradition from this State, or who should be transferred to another European Union state using the European arrest warrant procedure, would seek to prolong matters resulting in this State incurring unnecessary legal costs in circumstances where it is unjustifiable. Thus, a substantial proportion of cases determined at District Court level would ultimately be replayed in judicial review proceedings in the High Court. That issue requires consideration and we will pay some attention to it.
A number of Deputies, including Deputy O’Brien and Deputy Daly, have cited the European Commission’s report on the implementation of the European arrest warrant system in support of their contention that it is a flawed system. The report is an indication of how transparent the system is. I refer to the facts that it is being kept under review and that difficulties that arise are being commented on and considered so as to facilitate their being addressed in a uniform manner across the European Union. As might be expected, unfortunately, the extracts of the report used by the Deputies entailed a very selective reading. They ignored those parts of the report, or the bulk thereof, that do not support their arguments. The Deputies ignored the finding in the report that the European arrest warrant “has undoubtedly reinforced the free movement of persons within the EU by providing a more efficient mechanism to ensure that open borders are not exploited by those seeking to evade justice”. It is true that the Commission acknowledges that the European arrest warrant, despite its operational success, is not perfect. I am not claiming perfection for it.
The report points to the progress being made on measures establishing minimum procedural rights across the Union under the roadmap on procedural rights. While Deputies have bemoaned the lack of a proportionality test regarding the issuing of a European arrest warrant, none has mentioned that section of the report which deals with this issue. Paragraph 5 of the report sets out in detail the amendment to the handbook on how to issue a European arrest warrant, which provides expressly for a proportionality check. On listening to some of the Deputies opposite, one would be forgiven for believing Ireland’s role in the European arrest warrant system is merely to surrender its citizens to other states. It seems to have escaped their attention that the system is a mutually reciprocal one and that Ireland has also had people surrendered to it from other states who had sought to evade justice here.
In 2010, 26 persons were surrendered to Ireland on foot of European arrest warrants. Offences committed in this State in respect of which European arrest warrants were issued by Ireland included murder, sexual offences, drug offences, assault, robbery and arson. I do not believe Deputies O’Brien, Halligan or Daly would seek to argue in this House that those properly charged with murder, sexual assault, robbery, arson or drug offences should not be extradited back to this State to have their cases properly determined and prosecuted here.
 
Deputy John Halligan:I refer to evidence being produced in the State. That is not the case in America.
 
Deputy Alan Shatter: Principal among the offences cited in the European arrest warrants sent to Ireland for execution — I refer to warrants we were to implement — were 15 cases of murder, 25 sexual offences, including rape and the sexual abuse of children, 20 drug offences, 31 offences associated with organised crime and robbery, and 97 fraud offences. Are Deputies seriously suggesting we should cease to be part of the European arrest warrant system and that this State should become a safe haven for Europe’s most serious criminals?.........
 
European Arrest Warrant (Application to Third Countries and Amendment) and Extradition (Amendment) Bill 2011: Second Stage (Resumed)
Dáil Éireann Debate Vol. 768 No. 3
Thursday, 14 June 2012
Item Type:Dail Debates
Source:Oireachtas
Date:14 June 2012
EndNote:View
Subjects:VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland
MM-MO Crime and law > Justice system
MM-MO Crime and law > Substance related offence > Drug offence > Illegal transportation of drugs (smuggling / trafficking)
VA Geographic area > Europe
MM-MO Crime and law > Crime > Substance related crime > Crime associated with substance production and distribution
MM-MO Crime and law > Organised crime

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