On 14th July, Human Rights Monitoring Institute attended the Fair Trials-hosted kick-off meeting of the Beyond Surrender project, which will look at the use and abuse of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) and its impact on the life of the defendants and their families. The project, funded by the EU Commission, is being coordinated by Fair Trials and implemented in cooperation with HRMI and three other partner organisations in Poland (Helsinki Committee in Poland), Romania (APADOR-CH) and Spain (Rights International Spain).
Whilst being a useful tool to prevent evasion from justice across the EU open borders, the EAW has also contributed to fair trial abuses and has had devastating impact on people’s lives. This can often result in losing jobs, suffering from depression, and separation from one’s own family.
“Regarding the European Arrest Warrant, the EU has prioritised efficiency over human concerns.” Patricia Goicoechea García, Deputy Director at Rights International Spain
Beyond Surrender aims to provide a human insight into post-surrender treatment of people subject to EAW. Raising awareness will be key to informing future EU work to create minimum standards as a sound basis for mutual recognition.
“In countries like Romania, Beyond Surrender will break new ground in the practices and human impact of the European Arrest Warrant. This is something that has never been studied before” Georgiana Gheorghe, Human Rights Officer at APADOR-CH
As a first step, the partners will identify and monitor a number of surrender cases in their own countries. Not only will they test the respect of the procedural guarantees but will also focus on the personal experience of the defendants and their families, which too often go untold. To this end, Fair Trials, HRMI and other partners will produce a series of videos featuring the defendants’ testimonies in the view to show the human stories behind a court’s decision to surrender.
“Human stories can challenge the negative perception around people enduring unjustified decisions to surrender” Natalija Bitiukova, Deputy Director at the Lithuanian Human Rights Monitoring Institute
The findings from the case-files will be displayed in a comprehensive regional report that will highlight common themes and address targeted recommendations.
Fair Trials is excited to start working on this new project and thanks its partners for committing to such a valuable job.
Our special thanks go to the European Commission for their financial support toward this work.
Beyond Surrender is a project funded by the European Commission.