Absolute Bloody Madness

From a press briefing that I now get:

Recognition of court rulings:  EU approves proposal to try Britons in their absence in foreign courts (The Times, p. 11):  "British citizens could be convicted in their absence by foreign courts for traffic, credit card or other criminal offences under plans approved in principle by the European Parliament…Philip Bradbourn, the Conservative justice and home affairs spokesman in the European Parliament, said: “This initiative would enable courts to pass judgments in absentia. It goes against one of the most fundamental corner-stones of British justice – that the accused has a right to defend himself at trial. If other EU countries want to go ahead with this proposal that’s their choice, but the British Government should have no part [of it].” …The European Criminal Bar Association opposed the plans, saying that they were “by their very nature a violation of the fundamental procedural rights of the accused”…The Parliament said in a statement: “The EU wants to create a common area for justice, which requires the mutual recognition of criminal law judgments by member states.”"  (Frances Gibb)

Well, that\’s that then, isn\’t it?

The end of it all. No longer need your accuser face you, no longer must it be possible for you to defend yourself against any charges.

 

You can be tried at the other end of the continent without your ever knowing about it and then banged up.

 

Tried witout a jury, tried without defense. And all so that we can stop Germany from invading France again.

Not really all that good a deal really, is it?

"Mutual recognition of criminal law judgements"?

Yes, that really does mean what it says. A Greek court ties you in absentia for plane spotting, gives you 13 years or whatever and the British police must hunt you down and hand you over.

Yes, Magna Carta did indeed die in vain.

18 comments on “Absolute Bloody Madness

  1. If it were a case of mainland Europe rising to the standards we used to keep, existential despair and fury would be unnecessary.

    We have the misfortune to be living under the most treacherous political class in British history.

    Hang them. Hang them all, and hang them high.

  2. This is nothing short of treason.

    What is more outrageous is that Britain was one of the proposers! Damn them all to HELL!

    When are these shaved gibbons going to realise that the legal system is there for the protection of the people NOT the convenience of the State!

  3. When are these shaved gibbons going to realise that the legal system is there for the protection of the people NOT the convenience of the State!

    Change to:

    When are these shaved gibbons going to realise that the legal system SHOULD BE there for the protection of the people NOT the convenience of the State!

    Unfortunately at the moment it is there for the convenience of the State

  4. Tim,

    Britons and all other foreigners already can be and indeed are tried in absentia in France, Italy and several other Southern European countries. While Northern European countries don’t presently recognize those trials, it still means that you can’t go there for the next 30 years or so, nor for that matter to third countries that do recognize the outcome of those in absentia trials and thuse might extradict you.

    That isn’t something that is all that easy to avoid. Just imagine you have been tried in absence in Italy and been convicted; that can happen right now, under the law as it is. While you won’t be extradicted by the British authorities, you might, for example, be on a plane that is supposed to go to Greece, but then rerouted to Rome because of bad weather. Then they’ll have you. Or what if your employer wants to send you to Italy on a business trip and you have to inform them that you can’t go because you are a fugitive offender, as far as Italy is concerned? Good luck on hanging on to that job, or getting another one, for that matter.
    Nor can you have property in Italy or send it on transit through it without having it impounded.

    This present initiative would, if it passes, strengthen the rights of people who are to be put on trial in absentia, for you have to be notified in advance and in a language you can understand. Even if you decline to show up, you can send a lawyer to confront your accusers.
    That is much better than the present absence of any protections at all. It is uncomfortable to learn what can happen if you go abroad, but it isn’t the EU that created this legal uncertainty, you have always faced it once you went abroad, even if you weren’t aware of it before.

    Besides, take the example of the European arrest warrant. You’ll remember the Austrian cartoonist who had been convicted of blasphemy in Greece (a couple of years back you and I had posted comments in a thread at Samizdata on this). When the warrant had first been proposed, people first feared that they might be extradited on the say-so of a foreign court, without any domestic legal recourse. But as it happens, the countries who signed on the treaty concerning the warrant put in safe guards; you won’t be extradited for something that isn’t illegal in you home country in the first place, nor will the police simply hand you over. That, by the way is why the Austrian cartoonist was not extradicted.

    It also isn’t as if you won’t be extradicted outside the EU: A British hacker is about to be haned over to the US, and so where British bankers and Britons who offfered online gambing services.

    So, while it is not an issue that is comfortable to think about, this initiative will, on balance, strenthen individual rights and legal protections, compared to the status quo.

  5. Tim, this has already happened. I remember reading about a Brit who had vacationed in Spain (Portugal?) and after returning home was served notice to appear to answer charges that he had skipped out on a bill or something. This was all under the auspices of the European Arrest Warrant. It took his rep in Parliament to stop the nonsense.

    I’m sorry I don’t remember it in greater detail.

  6. Just having a quick look through the relevant reportGiven that a) I’ve only had a look at it for about 10 minutes b) it’s written in fluent bollocks and c) I was already pissed off by how long it had taken me to find it on the fairly moronic europarl website, I could well be wrong, but isn’t the interpretation offered of it in that article essentially wrong?

    Article 4a explicitly states that a member state may decide not to accept an in absentia judgement:

    “if the decision was rendered following a trial at which the person concerned did not appear in person, unless the European arrest warrant states that the person, in accordance with the national law of the issuing Member State:

    in due time, and in a language which he/she understood,

    (i) either was directly summoned in person or by other means actually received official information about the scheduled date and place of that trial in such a manner that it was unequivocally established that he/she was aware of the trial,

    and

    (ii) was personally informed that the decision may be handed down if he/she did not appear for the trial;

    or

    (aa) having been directly summoned in person or by other means having actually received official information about the scheduled date and place of the trial in such a manner that it was unequivocally established that he/she was aware of the trial, had given an explicit mandate to a legal counsellor who was chosen, appointed and paid by the person concerned or who was appointed and paid by the State in accordance with its national law applicable to the rights of the defence, and was indeed defended by that counsellor during the trial;

    (b) after being personally served with the decision and being expressly informed, in a language which he/she understood, about the right to a retrial or to an appeal*, in which he/she would have the right to participate, the merits of the case, including fresh evidence, would be (re)examined and which could lead to the original decision being quashed:

    (i) expressly stated that he or she did not contest the decision;

    or

    (ii) did not request a retrial or an appeal in the applicable timeframe, which shall be a minimum of 10 days and a maximum of 15 days.

    (*This amendment applies throughout the text. Adopting it will necessitate corresponding changes throughout (each time there is a reference to a retrial the expression “or an appeal” should be added.)

    (c) was not personally served with the decision but:

    (i) will be personally served with it immediately and in any event not later than three days after the surrender and will be expressly informed in a language which he/she understands about the right to a retrial or an appeal, in which he/she will have the right to participate and which will allow the merits of the case, including fresh evidence, to be (re)examined and which may lead to the original decision being quashed;

    and

    (ii) will be informed about the timeframe, which shall be a minimum of 10 days and a maximum of 15 days within which he/she must request such a retrial or appeal;”

    They seem like pretty stringent criteria for me. Unless I’m missing something that’s hiding in the text (which I may be), it seems like it does not enable foreign courts to enforce judgements given in absentia, but rather provides greater restriction on their doing so.

  7. Just having a quick look through the relevant reportGiven that a) I’ve only had a look at it for about 10 minutes b) it’s written in fluent bollocks and c) I was already pissed off by how long it had taken me to find it on the fairly moronic europarl website, I could well be wrong, but isn’t the interpretation offered of it in that article essentially wrong?

    Have a look at Article 4a, which explicitly states the grounds under which judgements can be enforced. They seem like pretty stringent criteria for me. Unless I’m missing something that’s hiding in the text (which I may be), it seems like it does not enable foreign courts to enforce judgements given in absentia, but rather provides greater restriction on their doing so.

  8. Ralf,

    How is this “Better”? It is worse for it recognises the legality of such judgements. Yes, let them notify people, good. But complicity in such “trials” is an outrage.

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