Many readers of this blog will know about the European Arrest Warrant (EAW). Many readers of all political persuasions will also be of the opinion that the EAW is a step too far even for the European Union.
It’s not a fair law as it doesn’t allow for any due process to take place during the extradition of a person to another country. I suspect that this is because they EU officials don’t see the European countries as separate countries any more, just regions all under the same law. The fact that each country has totally different laws and totally different methods and procedures for implementing it seems to have escaped the brains of the MEPs who voted it into existence. Some countries are very good at following rules, whilst others are lax and prone to error.
An example of the unfairness of the EAW has just come to light. Tracey Molamphy is the victim in the latest case of EAW injustice.
In 1996 Tracey and her then boyfriend, Lee Chapman, were on holiday in Portugal. When they tried to change £120 into Escudos (there was a time before the Euro; maybe it become famous for the shortest lived currency) they were arrested because the money was counterfeit. After being put in jail for a day and extensively questioned they were released seemingly without charge and told to leave the country on the next flight.
That was the last they thought of the incident. Something to put away into the memory bank as a bad experience but not something that they would need to think about in the future. They carried on with their lives as normal, travelling around Europe on holiday for many years. That was until 2008.
In 2008 they arrived at Munich and were pulled to one side by the German authorities. They were informed that Tracey’s name had been flagged up on an immigration database. She was arrested and put in jail while she and her boyfriend tried to work out why.
The reason being that for some reason the Portuguese authorities had got round, 12 years after the crime, to issuing an extradition request for her as she was accused of being an accessory to forgery. It seems that Molamphy and Chapman had been charged at the original case in 1996, though they had not realised that as no translation facilities were provided for them during the hearing which was carried out entirely in Portuguese.
As to why Lee Chapman wasn’t arrested – it was because the Portuguese authorities didn’t have his address. They had Tracey’s address so could fill out the form properly for her. You just have to laugh at the quality of the judicial system that could allow criminals to go free because there address isn’t on file but so efficient that it can go through all the back records and find cases of little consequence and issue arrest warrants for them – years after the authorities seemingly had washed their hands of it by kicking the couple out of the country.
Tracey was kept in a German jail for two weeks alongside a German heroin addict, only being allowed out of the cell for 1 hour a day, until her lawyers managed to have her released on bail. After more legal representation at a cost of £20,000 she managed to have the original Portuguese charges dropped. That money used up her personal savings and the case led to the breakup of her relationship with Lee Chapman.
Was she unlawfully arrested? No, because the EAW is law. Was she unfairly treated by the German police? No, they were following their lawful procedures. So if everything was above board and followed the law what was wrong? The fact that no evidence needs to be shown to back up the extradition request.
The EU believes that all European countries’ laws are equal and that all of them are whiter than white. The fact that in some of them the authorities are more easily bribed or coerced, are corrupt, or just plain have bees in their bonnets about particular cases and can use the EAW for their own purposes just does not cross the minds of the EU officials who drafted the law.
You just have to look at the numbers of EAW extradition requests made by countries like the UK or Ireland compared to those of Poland to understand that European countries are not equal. This is also true of their benefits systems, their immigration rules, etc. For politicians to push for closer European integration whilst ignoring these facts means that they are ignoring the unintended consequences of their actions. It also proves that politicians are stupid, but I suspect that you already know this.
Humans being human means that they will naturally find the environment best suited to their needs. A claimant of benefits in Romania will naturally move to the UK to take advantage of the UK’s higher benefits. A country with lax immigration controls will find many non-EUs gaining entry to the EU through them, but because the illegal immigrants move on to better places in the EU, won’t care about the problem to stop it.
Tracey has now initiated legal proceedings against Portugal claiming wrongful imprisonment and mental anguish.