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UK dominates fugitive warrants, but Brexit throws EWA law into turmoil

10 Dec 2018 / legislation Print

UK dominates fugitive warrants, but Brexit throws EWA law into turmoil

Ireland issued 76 arrest warrants to other European states in 2017, the European Arrest Warrant Annual Report for 2017 reveals.

Published this morning, the report shows that, on foot of these warrants, a total of 47 people were returned here last year, bringing to 478 the number of surrenders made to Ireland since the legislation was enacted in 2004.

Of those, 47 returned here last year, 17 of which related to European arrest warrants transmitted in 2017.

Justice minister Charlie Flanagan said this morning: “The European Arrest Warrant is a valuable mechanism that helps ensure that dangerous criminals can be apprehended, keeping EU citizens safer as a result.”

Minister Flanagan noted the potential impact of Brexit on the extradition process and added: “The departure of the UK from the EU is particularly significant for Ireland on a wide range of issues.

Functioning system

“In the context of combating crime and terrorism, the necessity to maintain a functioning system of extradition between the two states has been identified as the key priority.”

He confirmed that Department of Justice officials are examining the implications of Brexit for extradition between the two states, and considering the options available to address the various possible outcomes to the Brexit negotiations.

The UK remains the state with which Ireland has the greatest interaction, EWA data shows.

However, the annual report says that the number of cases exceeding the time limits for processing, as laid down in article 17 of the Framework Decision “is a source of concern”.

Improvements

Legislative changes are being considered with a view to making improvements in this area.

The report also shows that 357 European Arrest Warrants were received by Ireland during 2017 relating to a variety of offences, including murder/grievous bodily harm, sexual offences (including rape and sexual abuse of children), drugs offences, robbery/assault, fraud and human trafficking.

There were 480 European arrest warrant cases on hand as at year-end 2017. Of these, 264 cases were received in 2017, while 216 cases were received between 2004 and 2016.

Over the course of 2017, a total of 73 warrants resulted in the surrender of 60 individuals by Ireland to other member states. 

These surrenders included 31 to the UK, 19 to Poland, nine to the Czech Republic, nine to Lithuania, three to the Netherlands, and one to Slovakia.

The number of European arrest warrants on hand at 1 January 2017 was 373.

Endorsed

A total of 224 European arrest warrants received in 2017 were endorsed by the High Court in 2017.

And 70 arrests were made in this jurisdiction in 2017 pursuant to European arrest warrants.

In 67 cases, the High Court decided not to order a surrender. There were three appeals to the Court of Appeal, and two to the Supreme Court.

Warrants

A total of 250 European arrest warrants were completed in 2017, of which 93 were received in 2017, while a further 157 were received during the period 2004 to 2016.

There were 159 EWA cases ongoing at year-end 2017. Of these, 54 were transmitted during 2017, while the remaining 105 had been transmitted between 2004 and 2016.

And 1,273 orders for surrender were executed up to 31 December 2017 since the coming into operation of the European Arrest Warrant Act on 1 January 2004.

A total of 478 people have surrendered to the State since the outset of the legislation.

Extradition procedures

The European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 came into operation on 1 January 2004, and gives effect to the Council Framework Decision of 13 June 2002 with the purpose of simplifying extradition procedures between member states.

When a European arrest warrant is received, it is forwarded to the Chief State Solicitor who applies to the High Court to have the warrant endorsed for execution.

Once endorsed, the warrant is forwarded to An Garda Síochána to be executed. The subject of the warrant must be brought before the High Court as soon as possible after arrest.

Remanded

After a High Court appearance, the person may be remanded in custody or granted bail. A date must be set for a hearing within 21 days.

The High Court has an initial 60 days from the date of the arrest to decide whether to order surrender.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland