The man-trap of the EU Arrest Warrant
Torquil Dick-Erikson, an international commentator based in Rome, responded to our post yesterday on the case of Mariotti and the EU Arrest Warrant with a grim warning about future events –
"Your summary of the case is perceptive and correct. There is only one item which is technically incorrect, where you write "However John Reid, who allowed hundreds of real murderers to wander around Britain, has just sent Mariotti back to Italy under the Extradition Act of 2003, which introduced the European Arrest Warrant." It was not "under" the 2003 Act because in fact the 2003 Act was not applicable to Mariotti, since owing to the dates of the events, his case came under the 1989 Act. However the latter allows broad discretion to the Home Sec., but alas he chose to exercise it as if Mariotti's case came under the 2003 Act.
The distinction is important, for under the 2003 Act the Home Sec is not allowed to look at whether there be any evidence. He just has to take the foreign state's word for it. Had Mariotti's case come under the 2003 Act, Reid would not have been morally at fault for not looking at the evidence (except insofar as he was a member of the government that brought in that dreadful Act). Under the 1989 Act however he was not required to look at evidence, but he could do so if he wished. Reid deliberately chose not to look at it, and that is why I say his action is morally abject. He sacrificed a real, flesh-and-blood human life on the altar of political expediency, to suit a dreadful policy.
In fact if he had looked at the (total lack of ) evidence and said, as Straw said in effect in 1998, "We are not extraditing this man because the Italian system is unjust and oppressive" he would have fatally undermined the basis of the 2003 Act and the European Arrest Warrant, which is the principle of "mutual recognition", that is, an assumption that all European systems are equally fair and just. This is a palpably false assumption, as Mr Mariotti's case graphically demonstrates, but to have shown it up would have ruined Blair's reputation amongst his EU peer-group.
In my view, the issue that requires our urgent attention in the near future is the following:
Three weeks to go, and three questions that will decide British history from now on. . .indeed if there will be any more "British" history or if it will come to an end, as we revert to being a province of Rome as we were 1600 years ago (or Berlin, or Brussels).
1) Will the new EU treaty involve the transfer of competence on Justice and Home Affairs from the member states to Brussels? We shan't know for certain till 17th June. This is crucial, for whoever controls JHA holds the power to use physical force on the citizens, and this is the heart of state power. As soon as Brussels has this, in essence it IS a state, and we become a province, subject to physical repression, e.g. from the European Gendarmerie (already up and training - see
2) Will Blair sign this treaty and hand over those powers? We shall know on 22nd June.
3) Will Brown proceed to ratify it without granting us a referendum, according to Blair's wishes? We should learn this soon after 27th June when he takes office. If the answer to the above 3 questions is YES, we will be with our backs to the wall.
We shall have two rather slender hopes:
a) a backbench Labour revolt will force an amendment on the Bill of ratification, to the effect that there shall be no ratification without a referendum.
b) The Queen puts her foot down, and tells Mr Brown she will not sign a Bill of ratification that does not provide for a referendum.
If both these hopes are dashed, we will see the Eurogendarmerie's armoured personnel carriers rolling off the chunnel trains and fanning out across the country. A very very nasty moment."
We would only add, let your MP, Gordon Brown, and The Queen know what you think immediately.