SUPPORTING THE FAIR TRIALS CAMPAIGN FOR A REFORM OF EAW
We want the EU to use less restrictive alternative measures including:
The European Supervision Order which allows a judicial authority to impose pre-trial supervision measures, such as an electronic bracelet, on a person residing in another Member State.
The European Investigation Order which allows investigating authorities to gather evidence across borders such as testimonies via video link without having to request that persons be arrested and physically transferred.
In practice, however, these alternatives to detention are routinely disregarded, while the use of the EAW has steadily increased since 2005. Prison overcrowding in Europe remains alarming. This worsens prison conditions and undermines mutual trust and the functioning of mutual recognition instruments like the EAW. The COVID-19 pandemic brought the prison crisis to the fore, highlighting the risk of incarceration to life and health. The long-standing crisis in EU prisons is driven in part by excessive use of pre-trial detention. More than 20% of the prison population in Europe are people waiting for a trial.
The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) was adopted in the wake of the 2001 9/11 attacks amid concerns that existing extradition laws were too cumbersome to effectively tackle serious cross-border crimes. In 2004, the EAW started to operate in the EU as a fast-track system for the arrest and extradition of a person to stand trial or serve a prison sentence in another Member State.
Originally intended as an instrument of cooperation in the fight against serious cross-border crimes, the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is now disproportionately used for all types of offences, with negative impacts on people’s fundamental rights. People subject to EAWs are typically deprived of their liberty, either at a pre-trial stage pending their surrender or after sentencing for the execution of detention orders.