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IGC Launch: European NGOs Publish Concerns Over Justice and Home Affairs and Fundamental Rights Provisions in Draft Constitution ( 1/10/2003 )
01 October 2003
In the lead up to Saturday’s launch of the Intergovernmental Conference, and on the eve of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council, 11 non-governmental organisations working in the fields of asylum, immigration, criminal law and human rights today released a joint submission to the IGC detailing their concerns about the draft European Constitution.
See: "Towards a Constitution for Europe: Justice and Home Affairs. Comments from Non-Governmental Organisations for the IGC" (document available by link at bottom of page).
In their paper, the NGOs are calling for the IGC to press for full observance of fundamental rights and to give substantive consideration to shortcomings in Part III of the draft Constitution, relating to policies on immigration, asylum, judicial cooperation in criminal matters and policing.
They say that without detailed clarification, some provisions in the new Constitution may be open to misuse and risk lowering existing human rights standards.
"As the Convention was given limited time and competence to consider these policy areas we press the IGC to revisit specific areas of concern in Part III (Chapter IV) on an area of freedom, security and justice," the joint submission states.
Among the issues raised in the joint paper:
Managing asylum flows
The draft Constitution contains a provision for "partnership and cooperation with third countries for the purpose of managing inflows of people applying for asylum or subsidiary or temporary protection."
Without clarification, this provision "is open to misuse if Member States seek to ‘sub-contract’ their protection duties to third countries," the joint NGO submission states. The article "contains the possibility that the EU could seek to coerce third countries into admitting those seeking protection in the EU."
In the move towards a common immigration policy, the reference to fair treatment of third country nationals residing legally in Member States needs to be clarified and amplified. The standards must be equal to the treatment of Member State nationals.
European public prosecutor
Clarification is needed that the creation of a European Public Prosecutor within Eurojust necessarily implies the establishment of a coherent set of European criminal procedural rules with adequate safeguards for the rights of the defence, including, in particular, adequate legal representation.
Judicial cooperation in criminal matters
A legal base is established to set minimum rules concerning the rights of individuals in criminal procedure and the rights of victims of crime. However, the NGO submission expresses concern at the absence of an independent monitoring mechanism. Such an evaluation of compliance in law enforcement is an essential element of the mutual trust and recognition that are to be the basis of
judicial cooperation in the EU.
Full implementation of the principles contained in the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and their justiciability, should form a positive obligation for Member States instead of being left to their discretion.
1. Click on this link for the document: Towards a Constitution for Europe: Justice and Home Affairs
2. For all the documentation, annotated texts and critiques on the Constitution see Statewatch's: Constitution Observatory
For further comment/background and interviews:
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL EU Office (Brussels) Tel: 32-2-5021499
ECRE (European Council on Refugees and Exiles) (Brussels) Tel: 32-2-5145939
CIMADE (Service Oecumenique d'entraide) (Paris) Tel: 33-1- 44186050
FINNISH JURISTS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (Helsinki) Tel: 35-8-9440522
ILPA (Immigration Law Practitioners' Association) (London): Tel: 44-20-72518383
JURA HOMINIS (Italian section of International Commission of Jurists)<