Labour red faced as red line on home affairs is broken by plan to extradite UK citizens

Labour is backing new EU rules that would mean UK citizens tried in absentia could be extradited under the European Arrest Warrant

Brussels 23rd January — Labour faces the first cracks in their so-called red lines today after the EU proposed that the European Arrest Warrant should be beefed up so that UK citizens could be handed over to other member states where they have been prosecuted and sentenced in absentia.

Because the UK does not permit ‘in absentia’ trials, it is the first test of the Government’s nerve over the EU’s increased involvement in justice and home affairs policy.

Sir Robert Atkins MEP said:

“The European Arrest Warrant, first enacted as an anti-terrorism measure, has already been abused by governments as a catch-all device to detain citizens. Now, if Labour still denies us a referendum on the spurious grounds that the UK is protected by Tony Blair’s ‘red lines’, I call on David Miliband to come clean on the Government’s real position on this proposal which will oblige the UK to extradite its citizens to other member states after in absentia trials in other EU countries.

“We are innocent until proven guilty in this country. We do not recognise in absentia judgments. If Labour forces British people to plead their innocence after foreign courts declare them guilty, it is the end of habeas corpus and the end of Labour’s credibility in the debate on the Reform Treaty.”

In absentia judgements are those where a person has been sentenced without personally appearing in court, a practice which is allowed in certain EU countries (Italy, Spain and France, among others). The UK has backed the idea of overturning opposition to in absentia judgments by sponsoring a proposal to mutually recognise criminal judgements involving custodial sentences with France, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Slovakia and Germany.

Top ↑