On 20 April, Eurojust was invited to attend the joint meeting of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) and the Subcommittee on Security and Defence (SEDE) of the European Parliament, Securing the external borders of the EU – a challenge for external and internal security – ongoing action to combat criminal smuggling at the borders of the EU. On behalf of Eurojust, Mr Klaus Meyer-Cabri, National Member for Germany, participated in a panel debate on respecting European and international standards in the investigation and prosecution of smugglers.
The key message underlined by Mr Meyer-Cabri was that cooperation and coordination in the fight against illegal immigrant smuggling are essential. Eurojust plays an important role in assisting the competent authorities of the Member States in dismantling smuggling networks through coordinated investigation and prosecution and the freezing and confiscation of criminal proceeds. By using a case example, Mr Meyer-Cabri highlighted the added value of Eurojust in enabling operational cooperation between judicial authorities from several Member States, by facilitating immediate contacts between all authorities involved, decisions on which jurisdiction is best placed to prosecute, fast exchange of information gathered, as well as links with other cases. The advantages of Eurojust’s coordination tools were presented: coordination meetings bring together prosecutors from all countries involved, coordination centers enable common simultaneous actions in several Member States to seize, search and arrest, and joint investigation teams (JITs) legally and financially supported by Eurojust speed up international judicial cooperation.
Mr Meyer-Cabri explained that Eurojust’s work in fighting illegal immigrant smuggling is not limited to its operational support. Eurojust works closely with relevant EU agencies and participates in Hotspots with its judicial contact points. In 2015, a thematic group on illegal immigrant smuggling was established at Eurojust. Knowledge derived from relevant case law analysed by Eurojust is passed on to national prosecutors to provide them with tools and best practice and to make them aware of challenges in investigations, prosecutions and judicial cooperation. One main difficulty encountered by the national authorities relates to the translation of evidence, such as wiretaps, especially when the volume of evidence is large and translation from rare spoken languages and dialects is required. Problems appear in identifying trustworthy certified translators and additional funding is needed to cover the significant translation costs. Mr Meyer-Cabri also informed the LIBE Committee that Eurojust is planning to develop a draft model agreement tailored for JITs used in illegal immigrant smuggling cases to better assist judicial authorities. Last, but not least, Eurojust works towards increasing operational and strategic cooperation with relevant third States.
Mr Meyer-Cabri concluded: ‘Very often, we see that only the small "fish" are first arrested, but there are more people behind. We want to get to those people and this usually takes time. Cooperation and coordination in the fight against illegal immigrant smuggling is key and Eurojust is ready to assist. At the same time, we need to achieve a sound judgement against smugglers while ensuring that the rule of law is respected. This is an absolute necessity.’
The event was streamed live.
European Agenda on Security.
European Agenda on Migration.
EU Action Plan against Migrant Smuggling.