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FRA study on European Arrest Warrant proceedings

FRA study on European Arrest Warrant proceedings

European Arrest Warrant proceedings – Room for improvement to guarantee rights in practice

The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) allows EU Member States to implement judicial decisions issued in another Member State. It applies to requests for the purposes of criminal prosecution or executing a custodial sentence or detention order. The report by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) examines how national authorities apply selected procedural rights and safeguards guaranteed by EU law in EAW proceedings. The key principles covered include proportionality in the application of EAWs, fundamental rights-based grounds for non-execution and the rights to access to a lawyer, to information and to translation and interpretation during EAW proceedings.

In FRA’s view, Member States should assess the wider rights implications of cross-border transfers on a case-by-case basis, including individual aspects, such as the requested person’s health or family situation, or the detention conditions in the country that issued the warrant. FRA’s findings indicate that there are practical challenges to ensuring that the rights of requested persons are fully respected. For example, the requested persons are not necessarily aware of their right to legal representation both in the country that issued the warrant and the one that executes it and of their right to freely choose a lawyer. In order for the requested person to fully understand the proceedings, all information provided about their rights and the reason for the warrant should be in simple and accessible language, avoiding legal jargon. Member States should also ensure the availability of qualified interpreters and translators, when necessary. FRA recommends that countries provide training and guidance for the police and legal professionals to enhance their ability to inform and assist requested persons during the proceedings.

FRA’s report draws on desk research and interviews with requested persons as well as lawyers, judges and prosecutors involved in EAW proceedings. The data was collected within the framework of FRA’s multidisciplinary research network, FRANET. The Institute for Human Rights at Åbo Akademi University, together with the Faculty of Law at the University of Turku, currently form the national focal point of FRANET in Finland. For the purposes of this report, the country studies on Finland were compiled by Rakel TIderman of the Institute for Human Rights. The country reports are also available on the FRA website.