Magazine article European Social Policy

Justice and Home Affairs : Mandatory Prisoner Transfer Move Meets Resistance

Magazine article European Social Policy

Justice and Home Affairs : Mandatory Prisoner Transfer Move Meets Resistance

Article excerpt

Should prisoners have the right to veto a move to transfer them to another EU member state? A draft Framework Decision tabled by Austria, Finland and Sweden thinks they should not but EU legislators do not seem so convinced. The argument underpinning the move is that prisoners can be best rehabilitated if they serve their sentence in the country with which they have closest personal and cultural links. But it was clear in the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee on 21 March that member states and MEPs have doubts about the mandatory nature of the regime.aA European Commission official said it basically supported the move and had even intended tabling something similar. The Commission shares the right to propose legislation on criminal matters with the member states.

NATIONAL PEROGATIVES ENCROACHED?

Austria, which penned the draft Framework Decision, is using its EU Council Presidency to push it forward. It will be debated by EU justice and home affairs ministers on 27-28 April and the Austrians hope to clinch a deal at the 1-2 June JHA Council. However, an Austrian Presidency official admitted that in the working group talks, most member states have opposed the move to force countries to accept transfers of prisoners who have been convicted for one of the thirty-two offences covered by the EU arrest warrant. Parliament rapporteur Ioannis Varvitsiotis (EPP-ED, Greece) favours a different formula, whereby it would be compulsory for member states to accept convicts sentenced to three or more years in prison, at least six months of which still had to be served. …

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