Report on the Convention on Mutual Assistance in criminal matters

The House of Lords Select Committee on the European Communities has published a very useful report updating its commentary and observations on the Convention on Mutual Assistance in criminal matters - the Convention was agreed at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 29 May. The Convention raises substantial issues concerning civil liberties and peoples' rights and now has to be ratified by national parliaments.

The Convention took the EU member states four years to agree on the text. It started out as a measure to deal with judicial cooperation updating the 1959 Convention on mutual assistance on criminal matters (Council of Europe). But in 1998 it was extended to become a Convention on police cooperation as well - covering the interception of telecommunications and the creation of joint investigation teams between EU states.

The provisions on interception are intended to provide the legal basis for EU-wide interception of telecommunications complementing the "Requirements" adopted by the EU on 17 January 1996, for background see: EU-FBI

In February Statewatch submitted to the Committee an assessment of the outstanding issues which raised questions concerning the scope of the proposed Convention - its scope is not limited to "serious crime" but any crime however minor. See, Memorandum by Statewatch and the response of the Home Office: Letter from Barbara Roche MP to Lord Tordoff

The full text of the Select Committee report is on: Mutual Assistance

The full text of the Convention: Convention

Note: Lord Tordoff is the chair of the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Communities. Barbara Roche is the Home Office Minister responsible for justice and home affairs issues.

These links to the House of  Lords report are covered by  © Parliamentary copyright 2000