Increasing mobility within the EU will have the inevitable
consequence that more EU citizens will find themselves embroiled
in the criminal justice system of another Member State, either
as defendants or victims. This is likely to involve dealing with
the consequences of traumatic events in a foreign language in
the context of a very different legal system.
Until recently the EU has done little to protect
the rights of defendants and victims caught up in crime with a
cross-border dimension. This contrasts starkly with the measures
adopted to facilitate cross-border law enforcement, notably the
European Arrest Warrant. There is a widespread perception that
the development of cross-border law enforcement measures has not
been matched by balancing measures to ensure the rights of those
defendants and victims involved. The Commission's 2004 attempt
to introduce minimum rights for defendants stalled and EU victims
legislation has proven ineffective. However the Lisbon Treaty
has opened the way for this to be put right and two Roadmaps of
planned legislation are now in place, for defendants and for victims.
In this Report we take stock of the early Roadmap
proposals and examine the potential benefit that they can, in
principle, bring. We also examine the disadvantage of potential
disruption to diverse and sensitive national criminal law systemsas
illustrated by the controversial proposal for defendants' access
to a lawyer at all stages of the investigative process.
We find that there is significant benefit to be gained
from EU legislation setting minimum rights for defendants and
victims, particularly for British citizens travelling within the
EU who, on the whole, enjoy a high standard of rights at home.
However, those minimum rights must be firmly grounded in international
law norms, such as the European Convention on Human Rights, to
minimise the risk of disrupting the UK criminal law systems.
Although the Commission is looking towards a more
expansive EU criminal law policy we consider that the Roadmap
legislation should be put in place and its impact assessed before
moving forward any further.
In the light of these conclusions we encourage the
Government to take a positive approach in principle to exercising
the UK opt-in to Roadmap legislation. We draw attention to the
decision which the Government will have to make by May 2014 on
whether the UK opts out of the pre-Lisbon EU legislation, including
the European Arrest Warrant.
1 The Roadmap for strengthening the procedural rights
of those suspected or accused of criminal offences was adopted
by the Council in November 2009; that for strengthening the rights
and protection of victims was adopted by the Council in June 2011. Back