NEWS

Common framework for security and justice

Greek Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos, who chaired the meeting of justice ministers, proposed a series of procedural guarantees, saying: «European policy in the field of justice should be based on the principles of a just society and individual liberties. It would be a mistake to believe that our efforts to create the necessary terms of security for our citizens entails restricting the framework protecting human rights and liberties.» Besides, said the Greek justice minister, «increasing judicial cooperation and the recognition of rulings made by courts in other European countries necessitates a common framework for such endeavors. According to the Greek presidency, therefore, the framework of protection for suspects and those charged with crimes in criminal procedures throughout the EU should cover: – The right to legal aid and representation; – The right to a specialized, registered interpreter and/or translator so that defendants know the charges they are facing and can understand the procedure; – The protection of vulnerable groups of suspects or defendants, including those of foreign nationality; children; those who are vulnerable due to their mental or physical state, or because they have children or dependents; the illiterate; refugees; asylum seekers; and those dependent on alcohol or drugs; – The need for consular protection; – Suspects or defendants’ knowledge of their rights and the drafting of a relevant ‘Letter of Rights,’ a simple written note, with information about their rights; – The right to temporary release from prison on parole (temporary release for a pending trial); – The right to fair handling of evidence; – Establishing the principle of non bis in idem, which prohibits trying someone twice for the same offense; – Protection against decisions made in the absence of the person concerned; – A regime for protecting the victims of criminal acts; – The need to check the compliance of member states with the implementation of the above. «We must avoid a partial, piecemeal and short-term formulation of policy, and a narrow, technocratic approach to the challenges we face in matters of justice and security,» said Petsalnikos. The justice ministers’ summit also dealt with the issue of judicial and police cooperation among member states. The Greek presidency encouraged member states to participate in dialogue with the aim of consolidating freedom, security and justice.