|Vol.7, No.31, 2.8.01, p2
ITALY'S botched handling of the Genoa riots may have set back the EU's justice goals by at least a decade, a leading human rights lawyer has warned.
Stephen Jakobi, of Fair Trials Abroad, said the community's plan to create a common area of freedom, security and justice within four years has been seriously undermined.
The Italian legal system had proved itself "incapable of treating fairly a large group of fellow Europeans," he said. "All the things that the governments want to do in the field [of justice] could be set back a decade by this, perhaps longer."
Jakobi, who has been acting on behalf of Global Resistance, one of the protest groups that were in Genoa, says the "disastrous" way in which suspects were handled demonstrated that Italy has a long way to go before meeting the highest justice standards.
More than 90 Spanish, German and British protestors arrested on the Saturday (21 July) were denied consular access until the following Tuesday or in some cases Wednesday. Yet Italian demonstrators taken into custody at the same time were released the next day without charge.
Jakobi said this was a clear breach of the UN's Vienna Convention, which states that people arrested abroad should be given such access "without delay".
If some countries fail to respect such fundamental rights, fellow EU members are bound to think twice before establishing the closer legal cooperation which they signed up to at the Tampere summit in 1999, argued Jakobi. "If we are still in a situation where EU citizens arrested in another Union country can't even get the most basic rights they are entitled to under international treaties we are an awful long way from being able to accept recognition of judgements or indeed much of the whole Tampere package," he added.
Meanwhile, French Green MEP Daniel Cohn-Bendit - one of the leaders of the Paris student revolt in 1968 - has called for an inquiry by the European Parliament into police brutality during the G8 protests.
One man, 23-year-old Carlo Giuliani, was shot dead during rioting and the Italian police faces legal action from protestors who claim they were beaten up during a raid on their sleeping quarters in a school.
Italy's botched handling of the Genoa riots may have set back the EU's justice goals by at least a decade, a leading human rights lawyer has warned.
|Justice and Home Affairs, Values and Beliefs