The man responsible: Liberal Democrat MEP Graham Watson, second from left. Picture by the EPP.
'All that is required for the deportation of a suspect under an EAW is basic information about their identity and an alleged offence.' No evidence. No proof. No chance to stop it. If another country forwards your name onto your local constabulary, and some description of a crime, there's nothing that you, the courts, or even the government can do: that's where you're headed to face trial. You might spend months or even years in post-Soviet prisons, where none of the basic amenities of home are available, and none of what you might think your basic legal rights afforded to you; only, at the end, to stand before a court in a country where the law is not as mature as, say, France or Germany, where corruption is rampant, and where judicial delays and oversights are par for the course.
If you are found innocent, which a shockingly high percentage of those subjected to such conditions are, you'll likely have spent your life savings on proving it, and, depending on the country that called for your extradition, you may still be on a database of some kind. And it really could happen to you: because there is no requirement for the country requesting extradition to offer any kind of proof at all - not even flight records showing that you even visited - literally anyone could be plucked from their humdrum routine and thrust into the world of 'pan-European justice.' Don't take my word for it - Fair Trials International, an NGO that usually spends it time campaigning against and shedding light on the intricacies of the law under Third World despots, has said the same thing in their report on the subject.
Britain is about to opt-in to a European treaty (the Prum Treaty - no, I've not heard of it either) that requires the sharing of driver registration details amongst the twenty-seven nation bloc. Owing to the UK government's prized DNA collection - the largest on earth - that puts British citizens especially at risk of allegations arising from 'false positives.' That could lead to an increase in the numbers of people, rattled through a haphazard multinational court system at great personal and financial cost. Most worringly, research in Holland suggests the EU scheme only has a 33% success rate, meaning that most - not some, but most - of those hauled into such a situation will be innocent. What's stopping you, as a law-abiding citizen, being one of them? Nothing, that's what.
What can we do about it? We can't change the EAW through voting: it's beyond us. Nor will writing to MPs, signing petitions, or sending in angry letters stop the government from doing as it pleases. No amount of amateur activism will help our cause. So, what do you do when amateurs can't get the job done? Send in the professionals. The following is a template email to Fair Trials International, which is very much leading the charge against the EAW at the moment, and can be contacted here:
Dear Fair Trials International,
I would like to express my admiration for your work in fighting the European Arrest Warrant. At a time when the coalition government is largely silent on the issue, it is vital that there is someone who continues to strive to bring this systemic reduction of judicial standards to the attention of the people. I feel that there would be a groundswell of public anger, if only more people kneww about it, and I suspect that, as a campaign group dedicated to opposing it, you feel the same. On behalf of people who have and will have their most basic expectations of the law and the sanctity of their personal lives dragged through the mud, please continue your work, and please do more to publically take the government to task on this issue. They will listen to no amount of public outrage: but a resourceful and respected campaign group they just might.
Thank you kindly.
Yours sincerely, ...
Or, you could always invest in your future rights, i.e. donate. Fair Trials International is the only charity fighting these abuses: if it can't, there's no-one.