Sarah speaks to the European Parliament about the European Arrest Warrant, defendants' rights and Andrew Symeou

November 24, 2009 3:20 PM
By Sarah Ludford MEP in the European Parliament

Sarah Ludford (ALDE). - Mr President, the Swedish Presidency is to be congratulated for the way they have pushed the overdue question of defendants' rights to fair treatment across Europe. This is absolutely essential to accompany the European arrest warrant. We need to ensure that mutual recognition really can be based on mutual confidence in all the national criminal justice systems. This is not the case at present and there are severe weaknesses.

I also have a constituent, Andrew Symeou, who has been in jail in Greece since July, refused bail because he was a foreigner. His Greek lawyer has made a complaint about police abuse and destruction of evidence. An application will be made to the European Court of Human Rights, and it is pretty shameful that this is necessary, because this is about the treatment of one EU citizen by another Member State. It is shocking that this has to go to Strasbourg.

So I support the European arrest warrant, but we absolutely must have the defendants' rights to go with it. Otherwise we will have scandals like that of Andrew Symeou which destroy public support for the European arrest warrant, as is happening in my country.