Project title: Enhancing Cross-border Mutual Legal Assistance and Recognition of Decisions in Countering Terrorism and Preventing Radicalisation in Prisons
The project addresses the needs of greater cooperation, understanding and exchange of information on a European level of matters relating to judicially countering terrorism, within the context of mutual legal assistance, mutual recognition of decisions in relation to the freezing and confiscation of terrorist assets, countering radicalisation in detention and using alternatives to imprisonment, as well as the implementation and correct and effective use of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), relevant Framework Decisions (577, 783, 829, 909, 947) and other legal instruments in relation to these fields. Judges and prosecutors throughout the EU often act in relation to imprisonment of radicalised individuals and returning foreign fighters without being aware of the wider implications this may have on other vulnerable prisoners and/or possible reintegration into society and, therefore, the de-radicalisation process of these individuals. This project aims to contribute towards awareness raising in relation to this. The setting of training seminars provides an ideal platform for this, where the need for better cross-border cooperation, mutual legal assistance and recognition of decisions in relation to counter terrorism and the freezing and confiscation of related assets, as well as the prevention of radicalisation in detention, alternatives to imprisonment and the rehabilitation of radicalised offenders, the proper implementation of relevant FDs, the EAW and other relevant legislation in the field can be discussed, analysed and effective ways forward realised.
The concept of this project was developed on the grounds that terrorist attacks within the EU’s territory over the last decade have sparked concern about radicalisation processes and calls for a more inclusive and concerted effort from the Member States, with a particular focus on preventive measures to tackle the problem of radicalisation within prisons, as a fertile setting for indoctrination and recruitment of vulnerable subjects, also when returning foreign fighters are placed in detention, apart from enhancing cross-border cooperation in countering terrorism and its financing. There are at present still diverging applications of legal instruments meant to facilitate criminal justice between EU Member States in the field of countering terrorism and radicalisation in prisons, such as on mutual legal assistance and recognition of judicial decisions, the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), the Framework Decisions (FDs) 829, 909 and 947, 577, 783, etc. This has a detrimental effect on exchanging information between Member States, the freezing and confiscation of terrorist assets, as well as the countering of radicalisation in detention and using alternatives to imprisonment. Moreover, there are still different standards in place within various Member States when it comes to exchanging counter terrorism information, with many national public bodies still being reluctant to fully share data with other countries and/or are slow in doing so, on the basis of these topics still being seen by many as national security concerns, without seeing the wider European picture. This makes it apparent that there is a need for an exchange of best practice and experience in this field between various actors, so as to facilitate a more coherent European approach in the matter.
It is apparent that there is a need for such a training series and the offering of such seminars is a very timely matter, as the EU Agenda on Security 2015 partially focusses on the priority area of this call, stressing the link between extremist violence and radicalisation processes and emphasising the need for strategies supporting de-radicalisation processes in prison settings. It also highlights the need for a better and deeper cross-border exchange of information and cooperation in countering terrorism and its financing, including the freezing and confiscation of assets. Moreover, in June 2015 the European Parliament presented a draft report on preventing the radicalisation and recruitment of EU citizens by terrorist organisations, calling for an exchange of best practices between Member States and the issuing of guidelines on preventing radicalisation in prisons and on training for practitioners and the development of rehabilitation programmes, with an adoption of the report in the November 2015 plenary session. Furthermore, the Criminal Justice Platform Europe also organised a high-level ministerial conference in the same year, calling for a greater and better exchange of information and national policies to prevent further radicalisation processes within prison settings or probation and facilitating de-radicalisation programmes and alternatives to imprisonment. Many of the partners in this project have their own working groups on the proper implementation and use of FDs 909, 829 and 947 as well as on radicalisation in prisons, which makes the need for such a series of seminars ever more apparent, as well as being able to contribute towards the sharing of knowledge and expertise in the field.
The major objectives that the project aims to achieve are the following:
- Raise awareness of issues surrounding mutual legal assistance and recognition of decisions in relation to counter-terrorism, the exchange of information, freezing and confiscation of relevant assets, as well as in relation to dealing with and countering radicalisation in detention and using alternatives to imprisonment.
- Improve application of relevant instruments (FDs, EAW, Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, ECRIS and other relevant legal instruments) due to real-time training, including workshops where relevant
- Allow for an exchange of best practice and experiences in matters related to the exchange of information in relation to counter-terrorism and mutual legal assistance, freezing and confiscation of relevant assets, countering radicalisation in detention and using alternatives to imprisonment.
- Strengthen mutual trust and networking between judicial authorities and other relevant actors throughout the eligible EU Member States.
The target groups of the project are legal and judicial practitioners, as well probation officers and other relevant prison (administrative) staff. An effective cooperation and coordination, as well as an understanding of and learning about each other’s work and issues faced in relation to counter-terrorism, the freezing and confiscation of related assets, countering radicalisation in detention and using alternatives to imprisonment, can only be realised if all of these target groups come together, also with the invited speakers from various fields, to openly discuss and debate matters of mutual interest and concern. This opportunity is offered by this series of training seminars.
- Mutual legal assistance in countering terrorism and exchanging information; mutual recognition of decisions in relation to FDs 577 and 783; the fourth AML Directive and the use and functioning of ECRIS (EN & ES, Madrid, 9-10 February 2017)
- Prevention of radicalisation in detention: FDs 909, 829, 947 their implementation and proper use, the EAW and pre-trial detention in relation to apprehending and further radicalising individuals, the role of the judiciary in disengagement and de-radicalisation, de-radicalisation programmes in prisons and religious counselling (EN & DE, Vienna, 12-13 October 2017)
- Rehabilitation and alternative sanctions to detention of radicalised individuals: alternative probationary measures, reintegration into society, rehabilitation measures in relation to foreign fighters as part of the criminal justice response, rehabilitation programmes and supervision within the context of FDs 947 and 829, risk assessment of individuals role of the judiciary in disengagement, rehabilitation and de-radicalisation (EN, Utrecht, March 2018)
- Best practice and the way forward in relation to cross-border judicial cooperation in countering terrorism and preventing radicalisation in detention: summary of findings of last three seminars, focusing on and giving a deeper analysis of highlights of all of them, reviewing results and making conclusions about possible future training needs (EN & French, Trier, June 28-29, 2018)
Leading partner: Academy of European Law (ERA)
Project partners: Centro de Estudios Juridicos/Spanish Centre for Legal Studies, Studiecentrum Rechtspleging (SSR)/Dutch Training and Study Centre for the Judiciary, European Judicial Training Network (EJTN), EuroPris, Confederation of European Probation (CEP), European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ), Ecole National de la Magistrature (ENM)/French School of Magistrates
Duration: December 2016 – September 2018