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Despite flaws, European Arrest Warrant provides vital, effective extradition arrangements, says Lords

The House of Lords Committee on Extradition Law has today published a short report on the European Arrest Warrant, following last week's evidence session with Baroness Ludford and Jacob Rees-Mogg MP.

The session was held in advance of forthcoming votes on the UK opt-in. It juxtaposed the two political arguments on this controversial issue by hearing from Baroness Ludford, in favour of opting in, and Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, who opposes the opt-in.

During the session, Baroness Ludford, author of the European Parliament's report on the EAW system, said: “the European Arrest Warrant has delivered big improvements in the speed of extradition through the free movement of judicial decisions in place of traditional inter-governmental relations. That is important for the public interest in bringing criminals to justice and it is also important for victims.”

Mr Rees-Mogg stated that: “I am in favour of having a system [of extradition with EU countries], I am just in favour of having a different system that is not coming under the competence of the European Union and, therefore, it remains a matter of UK law.”

The Committee's view is that the UK's must have effective extradition arrangements with the EU, which the EAW currently provides. Although alternative arrangements have been proposed, they each raise substantial political and legal questions that would need to be answered. If the UK were to allow its opt-out to come into effect in early December these questions would become acute and would require urgent answers.

Commenting, Chairman of the Committee, Lord Inglewood, said:

“The arguments about whether to opt back into the European Arrest Warrant have become inextricably tangled with the longer term issue of the UK's EU membership. The immediate issue is whether or not to opt back into the EAW within the month.

“It is obvious from the evidence we have heard this week, and in our wider inquiry, that the EAW system requires much improvement.  If the UK opts back in, we would urge the Government to work with our European partners to improve the EAW as a matter of priority.

“It is unarguable that the UK must have effective extradition arrangements with other Member States; despite its flaws, the EAW provides this. The other possible ways mentioned in the evidence of achieving such extradition all face substantive, possibly fatal, political and legal uncertainties. If the UK leaves the EAW, it is not clear how it could be replaced and how a protection gap could be avoided. Speaking personally, I cannot see a realistic alternative to opting back in to the EAW now.”

The Committee's aim in producing this short report is to help inform the debate and vote scheduled to take place in the House of Commons on Monday 10 November.

Embargoed copies of the report are available to the media from the Lords Press Office. To request a copy, or bid for an interview with Lord Inglewood, please email or call 020 7219 8550.

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