Video testimonies


The topics were chosen to reflect the most urgent areas of the European Arrest Warrant that need to be addressed by courts and policy makers. The issues were chosen based on initial survey, the outcomes of consultation workshops and individual conversations with Fair Trials’ Legal Experts Advisory Panel (LEAP). On the basis of that information, we selected issues to highlight and chose experts to give testimonies on their practical experience. Each expert was then sent a list of questions that covered the issues chosen prior to recording the video testimony either in-person or remotely.


The experts and countries represented were chosen after consultations. The countries selected have a long-standing record of rights violations or best practices in the areas covered. The experts chosen are also defence lawyers specialised in cross-border cooperation instruments and have practical experience with the rights and issues covered in each video. To better reflect the challenges related to access to interpretation and translation services we also included two professional interpreters in the list of experts for the testimonies on the right to interpretation and translation.


Dimitris Lochias, Cyprus
Michiel de Bruijn
, The Netherlands
Constance Ascione Le Dréau & Aurélia Grignon, France

Many Member States, when they are the state that issued the European Arrest Warrant (“EAW”), do not grant access to the case file while the person subject to the EAW is in the executing state. Instead, access to the case file is granted after the person has been surrendered and is in the issuing state. This means that the person can be detained for longer periods without being able to access the case file and challenge the detention and the EAW. We want to highlight the importance in having access to the case file in both the issuing and executing state because by preventing people from exercising their right to access their case file until after surrender, they are prevented from the right to challenge the issuing of the EAW and obtain an effective remedy.

In addition, the defence normally only has access to the EAW form and not the national arrest warrant, on which the EAW is based. Access to case file is crucial in order to challenge detention and ensure an effective defence. We want to highlight the importance of having access to both the EAW and the national arrest warrant because the ability to challenge the surrender is drastically impaired if the person does not understand the grounds of the underlying national arrest warrant.


Gwen Jansen & Michiel de Bruijn, The Netherlands
Alejandro Gámez Selma
, Spain

Typically, the person subject to an EAW will have access to a lawyer in the executing state but it generally remains a challenge to have access to a lawyer in the state that issued the EAW. This is due to a lack of access to information and practical assistance in appointing a lawyer in another state and in respect of availability of legal aid. We want to highlight the importance of having access to a lawyer and legal aid in both the issuing and executing state in the EAW proceedings.


Alejandro Gámez Selma, Spain
Asya Mandzhukova Stoyanova
, Bulgaria
Constance Ascione Le Dréau
& Aurélia Grignon, France

The EAW Framework Decision does not include a right to challenge a decision to issue an EAW (and national arrest warrant at the basis of the EAW) and leaves it up to each Member State to decide whether and at what stage such review is possible. However, given the impact that surrender under the EAW can have people’s fundamental rights, it is crucial that there is a right to challenge the EAW, and obtain judicial review of it, before a person is surrendered. In practice in some Member States the judicial review is not possible until a person is surrendered to the issuing state. We believe that this right stems from Article 47(1) of the Charter and Article 13 of the ECHR, which guarantee the right to an effective judicial remedy.


Mary Phelan, Ireland
Daniela Amodeo Perillo & Nicola Canestrini, Italy
Alejandro Gámez Selma, Spain

In EAW proceedings, it is not unlikely that the person subject to the EAW does not speak the language of the country in which they are arrested. There are, however, many practical obstacles to accessing interpretation services. They include lack of available interpreters, inadequate assessments of the person’s knowledge of the language of proceedings and issues regarding the quality of the interpretation. It is crucial that the person is granted access to interpretation to be able to communicate with their lawyer and understand and effectively exercise their rights.