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EU mutual recognition system – prison sentences and prisoner transfers

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EU mutual recognition system – prison sentences and prisoner transfers

SUMMARY OF:

Decision 2008/909/JHA – application of the principle of mutual recognition to judgments in criminal matters imposing custodial sentences or measures involving deprivation of liberty for the purpose of their enforcement in the European Union

SUMMARY

This framework decision seeks to extend the application of the principle of mutual recognition, whereby EU countries agree to recognise one another’s laws or decisions, to judgments in criminal matters imposing prison sentences.

WHAT DOES THIS FRAMEWORK DECISION DO?

It describes how EU countries recognise and enforce each other’s judgments in regard to criminal matters. The aim is to help convicted persons to better reintegrate in society.

It allows an EU country to enforce a prison sentence imposed by another EU country against a person who resides in its territory.

It sets up a system for the transfer of convicted prisoners back to the EU country of which they are nationals (or normally live) or to another EU country with which they have close ties so that they serve their prison sentence there.

KEY POINTS

The procedure is based on the following principles:

  • A judgment with a certificate is transmitted directly by the competent authority of the issuing country to the country enforcing it.
  • The transfer is subject to the consent of the convicted person, but can be made without this consent in specified circumstances. In all cases, the convicted person should have the chance to give his/her opinion if s/he is still in the country of its issue.
  • The country of enforcement must, without delay, take measures to enforce the sentence. If a sentence is adapted, it must correspond as closely as possible to, and never be harsher than, the original sentence.
  • The execution of a sentence is governed by the law of the country of enforcement, as are the grounds for early or conditional release (when the person must respect conditions, such as not going to a certain district).
  • The decision sets out a list of serious offences that are punishable in the issuing country by at least 3 years in prison, for which judgments are recognised and enforced and for which there is no need to check for dual criminality (i.e. when a crime exists under the law of both issuing and enforcing countries).
  • The country of enforcement must, in most cases, decide within 90 days of receiving the judgment and the certificate whether to recognise the judgment and whether to impose the sentence. The decision includes a limited list of grounds on the basis of which a country may refuse to recognise a judgment and enforce a sentence.

The European Commission’s 2014 report on the implementation of the Framework Decisions 2008/909/JHA, 2008/947/JHA and 2009/829/JHA notes that, despite the efforts made to date by some EU countries, the implementation of these three acts is unsatisfactory. It calls on EU countries that have not already implemented the decisions to do so promptly.

FROM WHEN DOES THE FRAMEWORK DECISION APPLY?

It entered into force on 5 December 2008. EU countries had to incorporate it in national by 5 December 2011.

BACKGROUND

Each year, several thousand EU citizens are pursued for alleged criminal offences or are convicted in an EU country other than their own. Mutual recognition of judicial decisions is the cornerstone of judicial cooperation in criminal matters within the EU.

ACT

Council Framework Decision 2008/909/JHA of 27 November 2008 on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to judgments in criminal matters imposing custodial sentences or measures involving deprivation of liberty for the purpose of their enforcement in the European Union (OJ L 327, 5.12.2008, pp. 27–46)

RELATED ACTS

Council Framework Decision 2008/947/JHA of 27 November 2008 on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to judgments and probation decisions with a view to the supervision of probation measures and alternative sanctions (OJ L 337, 16.12.2008, pp. 102–122)

Council Framework Decision 2009/829/JHA of 23 October 2009 on the application, between Member States of the European Union, of the principle of mutual recognition to decisions on supervision measures as an alternative to provisional detention (OJ L 294, 11.11.2009, pp. 20–40)

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the implementation by the Member States of the Framework Decisions 2008/909/JHA, 2008/947/JHA and 2009/829/JHA on the mutual recognition of judicial decisions on custodial sentences or measures involving deprivation of liberty, on probation decisions and alternative sanctions and on supervision measures as an alternative to provisional detention (COM(2014) 57 final of 5.2.2014)

Commission Staff Working Document — Tables ‘State of play’ and ‘Declarations’ accompanying the document: report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the implementation by the Member States of the Framework Decisions 2008/909/JHA, 2008/947/JHA and 2009/829/JHA on the mutual recognition of judicial decisions on custodial sentences or measures involving deprivation of liberty, on probation decisions and alternative sanctions and on supervision measures as an alternative to provisional detention (SWD(2014) 34 final of 5.2.2014)

Commission Decision 2014/858/EU of 1 December 2014 on the notification by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland of its wish to participate in acts of the Union in the field of police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters adopted before the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon and which are not part of the Schengen acquis (OJ L 345, 1.12.2014, pp. 6–9)

last update 17.10.2015

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