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Speech of the Minister of Justice of the Republic of Slovenia, prof. dr. Lovro Šturm, in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament

Slovenian Minister of Justice Lovro Šturm talks in front of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee of the European Parliament about the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency

The President of the Council of Justice and Home Affairs, Minister dr. Lovro Šturm, has today presented the programme of the Slovenian Presidency in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament (LIBE) before answering the questions of the Members of Parliament.

The Committee LIBE is responsible for the protection of citizen rights, human rights and basic rights in EU, including the establishment and development of an area of freedom, security and justice, and for agencies operating in this field, e.g. Eurojust. The Minister has presented the priorities and plans of the Slovenian Presidency in the next six months, the discussion was held about open dossiers which are being debated in the Committee.

The Minister has in short presented the plans of the Presidency for the development of E-justice. The Slovenian Presidency shall continue the work on the project of European Judicial Portal. The portal shall enable the access to the existing or planned electronic information systems on the national level and on the level of EU. It shall also enable a user-friendly access for the citizens, economic operators, practitioners, courts and judicial authorities. At their work they will be able to use the advantages offered by the information technology. The portal shall give access to numerous national electronic registers, e.g. the bankruptcy register, land register and court register. In the framework of E-justice there are many projects for linking criminal record registers as well as enhancing the use of video conferencing in cross-border criminal cases. The portal shall allow access to legal sources of Member States to the general public. "The Slovenian Presidency shall promote the practical use of modern information and communication technologies and their services because they enable greater legal security and enforcement of citizen rights," Minister Šturm has underlined.

The Committee LIBE is also responsible for police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters and for Eurojust. The Minister has in short introduced the proposal for the framework decision on strengthening rights in cases when the decision against the accused is taken in absence and enhancing judicial cooperation to the Members of Parliament. The proposal which is an initiative of Slovenia, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Czech republic, Slovakia and Sweden stresses the right to a fair trial and the right to attend trial, originating from the provision of Article 6 of the European Convention on human rights. Four framework decisions of which the provisions are amended by the proposed Framework Decision enable on the basis of mutual recognition of court decisions enforcement of decisions taken in absentia, however solutions to this issue are not the same. This hinders the work of practitioners, weakens the legal security and makes the judicial cooperation more difficult. Therefore the main goal of the proposed document is to increase the procedural rights of persons, charged in absentia, in the sense of unifying the rules for recognition and enforcement of such court decisions and to establish a single approach for the procedures of mutual recognition of court decisions taken in trials where the accused was not present. In this manner the legal certainty is increased and at the same time the proposal strengthens the judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

The proposal defines examples and conditions when the Member States must provide the right to a new trial in case the convicted applies for in order that the court decision taken in absentia is recognized by the judicial authority of another country. The proposal at the same time highlights the right to accurate invitation of the accused to the hearing and obligation that he or she is acquainted with the possibility that the court decision can be taken in his absence provided he or she does not participate in the trial. If these standards are not complied with, the Member State where the accused is situated can refuse the demand of the Member State requiring his extradition. The proposition does not provide for the harmonization of procedural provisions of Member States.

The future of Eurojust is closely connected to the progress of the judicial cooperation. Eurojust has a key role in implementing the European judicial cooperation in criminal matters, influencing further structuring of the European policy in criminal matters with practical measures. "In five years Eurojust has substantially helped to improve cooperation between Member States," emphasized Mr Šturm.

The Presidency shall strive to strengthen the structures of Eurojust and European judicial network to allow further cooperation in criminal matters. For this purpose it shall propose the introduction of mechanisms to ensure greater response of Eurojust. The Presidency hopes to standardize the minimum range of competences which the national representatives of Eurojust as domestic authorities can implement in their own countries, and to ensure better transmission of information which will enable Eurojust a better functioning.


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Date: 22.01.2008