The President of Eurojust, Ms Michèle Coninsx, presented Eurojust’s view regarding the EU’s judicial work against foreign fighters to the European Parliament’s LIBE committee on 5 November, alongside other key actors in the field brought together to shed light on the current state of play. The other key actors invited by the Chair of LIBE, Mr Claude Moreas, included the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Mr Gilles de Kerchove; the Director for Multilateral and Global Affairs of the European External Action Service, Ms Maria Marinaki; the Director of Europol, Mr Rob Wainwright; Director for Internal Security - DG Home, Mr Luigi Soreca; and Chairman of the EU’s Council Terrorism Working Party, Mr Claudio Galzerano.
Ms Coninsx shared developments in the legal field in the fight against terrorism.
Some of the key points Ms Coninsx underlined were:
- We have a real terrorist threat, especially in relation to foreign fighters. This is a problem we should commonly share and commonly resolve.
- Solid legislative work has already been carried out at EU and national level.
- In 2005, after the Madrid and London bombings, a network of designated counter-terrorism prosecutors was put in place.
- To ensure the sharing of information, these prosecutors meet regularly at Eurojust. For instance, at Eurojust’s annual Strategic Meeting on Terrorism, which constitutes a goldmine of ideas and possibilities for common reflection, sharing information on best practice and case law.
- Since 2008, national judicial authorities are making use of the new offences (training, public provocation and recruitment) established, which are facilitating investigations and prosecutions. These provisions have been implemented in the national legislation of 26 Member States (as stated in a report by the Commission).
- Yet, some criminal behaviour is not fully covered. For example, passive training in terrorism is not covered in all Member States, nor is indirect provocation or recruitment of solo actors. Therefore, the system is not flawless.
- Ms Coninsx then posed the question, if we listened to the UN call in Resolution 2178 about going abroad for training and to fight, the UN would like all Member States to have a proper system in place to fight terrorist travel. That means we have to reflect upon: is the legal framework adequate and effective (enough), or should we think of a common denominator, allowing the judiciary to tackle the new phenomenon?
- Due to the varying approaches applied in addressing this problem in the EU, Ms Coninsx underlined the need for a multidisciplinary approach for better cooperation between authorities.
- Although the number of foreign fighters has been steadily increasing, the prosecution level is not moving upwards at the same rate.
- Some of the legal challenges were also highlighted, such as the gathering and admissibility of e-evidence in compliance with the rule of law, financial investigations and the judicial cooperation with third states.
- Finally, Ms Coninsx underlined the need for a common fight against this phenomenon. She stated ‘We must avoid a fragmented fight of symptoms. Therefore, we need to ensure fully coordinated actions against terrorism. This is like a cancer, and just as against cancer we must fight this disease in time, to do otherwise may be too late.’
The presentations resulted in an engaged session of questions from MEPs.
Ms Coninsx is the Chair of Eurojust’s Counter–Terrorism Team.
Next steps: at the beginning of December, a Eurojust report on Foreign Fighters will be presented to the Council.
Photos: © Eurojust
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