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Spain uses European arrest warrants ‘disproportionately,’ says Fair Trials

Organization says Spanish judiciary lacks “technical knowledge” of the orders and sees “problems” in their “practical application”

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28 June 2018 07:26 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

Spain is lacking in “technical knowledge” in the use of European arrest warrants and other methods of judicial cooperation between states. This is the conclusion of the Fair Trials organization in its ‘Beyond Surrender’ report published on June 28.

The report says a “basic issue observed is the lack of technical knowledge in relation to the functioning of the instruments of mutual recognition in Spain.” The research identifies the main “problems, tests and challenges” as being the “practical application” in the issuance of warrants.

In many cases, the report says, the warrants are applied “disproportionately” despite the existence of alternative forms of judicial cooperation and mutually recognized measures that are less “onerous” in terms of the rights of the person wanted by the judiciary.

The Fair Trials research on the effect of warrants on the lives of people extradited and their families shows that the orders continue to be used to “investigate people and judge minor offenses.” The study focused on four states: Romania, Poland, Lithuania and Spain.

In the case of Spain, the report suggests that “a better knowledge of the instruments would allow for a more adequate use of alternative measures to pre-trial detention.” The report also criticizes a “lack of coordination” between judicial bodies and the public prosecutor, and recommends “specialized training” on the use of European arrest warrants.

In criticizing the Spanish judiciary’s “disproportionate” use of the warrants, Fair Trials says that courts issue the orders before looking into obtaining testimony through “channels of cooperation” that already exist under EU law, which would also avoid the need for detention.

Among the recommendations the report makes to remedy the situation are such things as greater coordination between the courts, the creation of an independent registry for following-up on European arrest warrants, and promoting the use of communication and cooperation technologies.

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  • Ralph Bunche, regional director in European of Fair Trials NGO (by ACN)

  • Ralph Bunche, regional director in European of Fair Trials NGO (by ACN)