The 12th annual meeting of the National Experts on Joint Investigation Teams (JITs) took place at Eurojust in The Hague on 15 and 16 June. The meeting was organised by the JITs Network Secretariat – which is hosted at Eurojust – in close cooperation with Eurojust and Europol.
Over the two days, JIT experts from across Europe as well as other relevant practitioners and stakeholders discussed concrete steps to enhance the use of JITS in illegal immigrant smuggling and realise the political commitments resulting in this respect from the Council conclusions on migrant smuggling.
In line with the outcome of the tactical meeting organised by Eurojust on this topic, practical challenges were tackled and relevant best practice and solutions were identified. In particular, the meeting also confirmed the key role of the JITs experts, Eurojust and Europol in enhancing the use of JITs in this field.
Also relevant in this respect is the endorsement by the JITs experts of practical tools that facilitate the establishment and operation of JITs by national authorities. In particular, a new JITs practical guide was finalised and will be soon made available to all law enforcement and judicial practitioners.
Furthermore, the revision of the JITs model agreement is a concrete step towards a more proactive use of JITs in this crime area: with the revision undertaken by the JITs Network, this model agreement would from now on also be applicable to JITs with States outside the European Union, which would meet the specific needs of practitioners.
Since 2015, the European Union has been confronted by an unprecedented flow of migrants crossing its external borders, causing a global humanitarian crisis, with approximately 4 500 migrants reported to have died in 2015. Furthermore, the current migration crisis sheds light upon the acute involvement of organised crime groups in this field: criminal networks have quickly adapted to this development and significantly increased their involvement in illegal immigrant smuggling, often by taking advantage of facilities used for the purposes of other criminal activities. As shown by the Paris attacks of November 2015, smuggling routes and networks may also be used to infiltrate potential terrorists (e.g. foreign fighters) into the European Union.
Eurojust supports the setting-up and operation of JITs and finances their activities from its regular budget. The funding provided by Eurojust covers the cost of travel, accommodation, and interpretation and translation costs, in addition to equipment provided on loan, such as mobile telephones, laptops, mobile scanners and printers.
• France, United Kingdom, Belgium and the Netherlands met at Eurojust and set up a task force on illegal immigrant smuggling in the North Sea region
• Eurojust attends opening of EURTF Catania
• Eurojust at joint LIBE/SEDE hearing on migrant smuggling at EU borders
• Eurojust tactical meeting on illegal immigrant smuggling
• Eurojust Annual Report 2015, pages 34 and 35