by Eva Cabral
The European criminal system may be on the verge of a revolution. So says the CDS-PP* MEP Nuno Melo, who is the rapporteur of the directive proposal - European Decision for Investigation - that “will revolutionize the European criminal system as we know it today, which intends for a judicial authority in one country to be able to order the obtainement of evidence abroad, such as hearing witnesses, search and seizure, interception of telecommunications or other, based on the so-called principle of mutual recognition.”
Nuno Melo stresses to the DN, that if, to cases such as the Freeport and the Madeleine McCann - which had at stake investigative steps to be carried out in at least two countries (Portugal and England) - the proposed directive was applied, “English or Portuguese magistrates could, by themselves alone, order reciprocal diligences to be done in another country without needing to observe the many legal and bureaucratic impediments that exist.”
This European Decision for Investigation is thus intended to legislate, in order to implement new rules of criminal investigation, at a transnational level, which will oblige all countries regarding the matters of gathering and obtaining evidence.
Generically, the major objective of this proposal is to create a single, flexible and efficient instrument, to obtain evidence located in another Member-State in the scope of criminal proceedings.
This is a co-decision legislative process, for which Nuno Melo was appointed rapporteur of the European Parliament regarding matters of police and judicial cooperation in criminal proceedings. Initially it was presented in seven Member States: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
This week, Nuno Melo will meet with the so-called shadow rapporteurs of the various benches of Parliament, “waiting still, for the delivery of supporting documentation in order to verify which is the highest common denominator in view of the internal 27 EU countries legislation.”
The MEP states “that there are countries where some of the original norms of the proposal may enter in conflict with the constitution, particularly regarding issues of sovereignty.” This, he added, “is Germany and Portugal case, which is why one assumes the need to improve the source [starting] text first.”
In Portugal, the CDS-PP MEP will promptly seek hearings with the Attorney General's Office (PGR), the Supreme Magistrates Council, as well as with all the parliamentary groups, in order to assess the national sensibility towards the directive proposal. “This will necessarily, at a later stage, be transposed into Portuguese law by the Parliament.”
Overall, Nuno Melo stresses that he wishes for the directive to have made significant progress in the beginning of next year.
“Independently of the outcome that this directive proposal will achieve, it is clear that the current freedom of movement of persons, without border control in the whole space of the European Union, potentiates a greater easiness in committing crimes, which, by grounds of common sense, justifies as well a greater interaction and readiness of criminal investigation on an all Member States scale”, he told the DN.
*CDS-PP: Portuguese Centre-Right wing party - People's Party
in Diário de Notícias