|Author (Person)||Cronin, David|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.12, No.14, 13.4.06|
By David Cronin
MEPs will next week condemn a proposal to speed up the transfer of prisoners from one EU state to another as "too bureaucratic", arguing that the EU's free movement of people should also apply to prisoners.
The assembly's civil liberties committee will on 18 April debate a proposed "fast-track mechanism" that would allow a prisoner from one EU state who is convicted in another to serve a sentence in his or her home country. The proposal has been put forward by Austria, Finland and Sweden but has to be agreed unanimously by all 25 member states.
The Greek Christian Democrat MEP Ioannis Varvitsiotis, who has drafted the committee's report on the proposal, supports its broad thrust, but he said that it would be too cumbersome if implemented in its current form.
The three governments have recommended that, before a prisoner is transferred, permits would have to be issued by any EU state through which he or she will travel. The transit countries would be furnished with such details as the nature and "legal classification" of the offence for which a prisoner had been convicted and a "description of the circumstances" surrounding the crime.
"The entire procedure is excessively bureaucratic and formal," said Varvitsiotis, adding that permits should not be necessary for such transfers given that free movement of people had been agreed and internal border controls had been abolished for much of the Union's territory.
Instead of seeking a permit, he is arguing that the countries of transit need simply be informed of a transfer and given a copy of the certificate authorising it.
A Nordic diplomat said that the aim of the initiative was to help the rehabilitation of prisoners by allowing them to serve their sentences close to their families and friends.
"Of course, there will be logistical problems with this," the diplomat added.
A discussion on the dossier is expected when justice and interior ministers meet in Luxembourg later this month (27-28 April). It is thought unlikely that a deal will be clinched during Austria's tenure as holder of the EU's rotating presidency, which ends in June. Finland, its successor, has indicated it wishes to broker an agreement in the second half of this year.
Article anticipates a debate at the European Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) on 18 April 2006 on a proposed 'fast-track mechanism' that would allow a prisoner from one EU Member State who is convicted in another to serve a sentence in his or her home country. The Greek Christian Democrat MEP Ioannis Varvitsiotis drafted the Committee's report on the proposal which had been put forward by Austria, Finland and Sweden but had to be agreed unanimously by all 25 Member States.
|Subject Categories||Internal Markets|
|Countries / Regions||Europe|