Minister Flanagan publishes Bill to facilitate the transfer of probation measures between EU Member States
27 July 2018
The proposals in this Bill aim to:
increase chances of social reintegration and rehabilitation of offenders convicted of offences abroad;
better protect victims by ensuring non-resident offenders comply with probation conditions; and
reduce unnecessary detention of non-resident offenders by ensuring non-custodial sentences can be enforced in the person’s home State.
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan T.D., today (27 July 2018) published the Criminal Justice (Mutual Recognition of Probation Judgments and Decisions) Bill 2018. The Bill will implement EU 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.
Minister Flanagan said “I am pleased to announce the publication today of this Bill which will improve the rehabilitation of offenders sentenced to probation measures in other Member States. These are important measures to assist in imposing and enforcing criminal sanctions on non-residents while maintaining a focus on rehabilitation and reintegration.”
Every year thousands of EU citizens are convicted of offences while temporarily abroad in other Member States. The proposals in this legislation are part of a package of measures aimed at ensuring such offenders comply with the penalties or sentences imposed on them while maximising the chances of effective rehabilitation and reintegration into the communities in which they live and will return to. The Bill establishes a system under which the State will recognise judgments and supervise probation measures (enabling early release) and alternative sanctions (imposing alternatives to detention) issued by other EU countries in respect of Irish residents. The Bill also provides for the transfer of offenders sentenced to probation measures in Ireland but not resident here, back to the Member State in which they live to be supervised in that State.
In addition, courts across the EU can sometimes be reluctant to impose non-custodial sentences on offenders who are not resident in the State of conviction out of concern that the person will leave the jurisdiction and avoid punishment. This Bill will increase the likelihood of probation measures or alternative sanctions being imposed, in appropriate cases, by establishing statutory procedures to ensure the sentence is supervised in the person’s home country. As a safeguard, the Bill empowers the State to impose custodial sanctions on the offender if he or she fails to comply with his or her probation conditions and a European Arrest Warrant can be issued if the person absconds.
Publishing the Bill, the Minister commented, “These proposals will increase the chances of social reintegration of offenders by ensuring that probation measures imposed on them can be followed-up on and supervised in the county in which they live. This allows the offender to maintain ties with family, continue employment or education and engage with support services in his or her home country, all of which assist in rehabilitation and reintegration. Successful reintegration reduces the risk of reoffending, improving the protection of victims and society.”