Judicial cooperation in criminal matters within the EU is based on the principle of mutual recognition of judicial decisions. The EAW and the ‘common rules on detention’, which include three mutual recognition Framework Decisions, were created to improve judicial cooperation in the EU. These laws enable prison sentences, probation decisions or alternative sanctions and pre-trial supervision measures to be executed in an EU country other than the one in which the person is sentenced or awaiting trial, such as the country of nationality, residence or another EU country with which the person has close ties.
Their implementation is based on the principle of mutual trust, which implies that conditions of detention and procedural safeguards are equivalent in all EU Member States. In reality, however, large discrepancies exist, which might raise significant fundamental rights concerns.
With regard to detention conditions, the European Commission stressed in the past that “prison overcrowding and allegations of poor treatment of detainees may undermine the trust that is necessary to underpin judicial cooperation within the EU.” With regard to some of these challenges, National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) could play an important role: currently 24 NPMs carry out monitoring visits to places of detention in the EU and thus possess a considerable expertise about the treatment and conditions of detention in their countries. At the same time, research recently conducted by the BIM shows that there is hardly any interaction between the judiciary and NPMs on the national level and even less so across Europe.
BIM and the Academy of European Law (ERA) in Trier therefore aim to fill this gap through a project increasing the awareness of the judiciary of NPMs and the relevance of the latter in the implementation of the EAW and common rules on detention.
An Honorary Board was established for the duration of the project, which comprises high-level experts in the fields of EU law, judiciary and NPMs.
On 21-22 April, the first Consultation Workshop was held in Trier, Germany, for EU judges. More information can be found here.
On 6-7 June, a second Consultation Workshop was organised in Vienna, for NPMs. More information can be found here.
Finally, on 16-17 November, a Final Conference was held in Vienna, with the participation of all EU NPMs and judges from all EU Member States, as well as experts on torture prevention from civil society and international organisations. For more information, please click here.
A final study was published on judicial cooperation and the role of NPMs to strengthen the consistent and correct implementation of EU law in criminal matters, based on research and on three events central to this project.
Further details on the project can be found in the Factsheet and here.
We are grateful to the European Commission and the Straniak Foundation for all their support.
Tiphanie Crittin, Moritz Birk, Gerrit Zach
Gerrit Zach: email@example.com