Long-standing Big Brother Watch supporter Lord Vinson has been active in Parliament this week on the issue of the European Arrest Warrant. In the exchange below, he questioned the Home Office Minister Pauline Neville-Jones on the compatibility of the EAW with the age-old concept of habeas corpus.
Lord Vinson: To ask Her Majesty’s Government to what extent the European Arrest Warrant and European Investigation Order conform with the principle of habeas corpus.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): The UK’s transposition of the European arrest warrant complies fully with the concept of habeas corpus. UK implementation of the European investigation order will also be fully compliant.However, I understand that the noble Lord’s principal concern is the separate issue of European arrest warrants being issued for trivial offences. The Government share this concern and are talking to other EU countries, bilaterally and through the European Union, to stop this happening.
Lord Vinson: I thank the Minister for her considered reply, but I am not as optimistic. The fact remains that hundreds of UK citizens are being compelled to appear before any EU court without the merit of the often frivolous charges being first assessed. They can be locked up without pre-trial. Is she not concerned that this totally overrides the ancient liberties of the British citizen enshrined in Magna Carta and habeas corpus? Will she assure the House that this will be resolved?
Three member states of the EU have already declared the European arrest warrant unconstitutional. We should do the same. It really is time that we started to say no to damaging EU legislation.
The many and varied problems with the EAW are discussed at length in the new Big Brother Watch book which can be purchased here.