Member States’ judicial authorities continue to face severe challenges arising from the sharp rise in illegal immigrant smuggling (IIS). National investigative authorities look to EU institutions and agencies, including Eurojust, to support them in their difficult tasks to dismantle organised criminal groups and ensure sound judgements.
Organised by the Maltese EU Presidency and Eurojust, more than seventy practitioners from 23 EU Member States and third States such as Norway and the USA discussed what judicial authorities can do to investigate illegal immigrant smuggling more efficiently and effectively, shared experience and best practice and further developed the EU response.
The European Commission, the EEAS, EUNAVFOR MED, Europol and Frontex participated in the meeting. The meeting was chaired by Klaus Meyer-Cabri, Vice-President of Eurojust, and co-chaired by Vincienne Vella, Deputy to the National Member for Malta, representing the current EU Presidency, and Raivo Sepp, National Member for Estonia, representing the upcoming EU Presidency.
The main objective of the one-day meeting, held on 15 June 2017 at Eurojust in The Hague, was to strengthen the judicial response to IIS cases, transfer intelligence from front-line EU agencies into judicial proceedings, judicial cooperation obstacles and solutions, and the role of Eurojust in the fight against IIS.
The Chairs of the meeting said: ‘Individual Member States alone cannot fight this form of criminality. IIS is cross–border in nature and demands cross–border responses. Therefore, international cooperation is the key. All actors involved need to work together. The EU agencies and bodies need to ensure that the national investigative bodies receive all the support necessary. Stopping the business model of smugglers requires the interruption of the activities, and equally, an efficient and effective judicial response. Only when the masterminds behind the OCGs are apprehended and brought to justice can this modern form of slavery be successfully fought. Eurojust and all the other EU agencies and bodies will support these efforts to the best of their abilities.’
Photo © Eurojust