European Commission study on criminal sanctions in 11 Member States

Category: Civil Rights and Freedoms

6th June 2014

The European Commission has recommended that the EU introduce common minimum rules on the definition of criminal offences and measures that will guarantee special safeguards for children during criminal court proceedings.

The study was released on 6th June 2014 and focuses on criminal sanctions also including money laundering, frauds with no cash means of payment and illegal entry. The study analyses criminal sanctions available under national law in 11 European Union Member States.

It reveals that Member States have very different sanctions for these serious crimes, with the effect that some crimes are punished much more leniently in some Member States than in others.

The report presents diagnosis, recommendations and proposals, including a recommendation that the EU introduce common minimum rules on the definition of criminal offences, as well as minimum rules on the sanctions applicable to these crimes (for example the minimum duration of imprisonment). This may take away the incentive and possibility for criminals to choose the Member State with the most lenient sanctioning system as a "safe haven".

On the same day the above report was released, Justice Ministers from the Member States agreed on a general approach (an informal agreement) for measures that will guarantee special safeguards for children during criminal court proceedings.

The measures include that children must be assisted by a lawyer; children should be detained separately from adults and children should not have to bear the cost of certain safeguards, even if found guilty.

The European Commission put forward a directive in November 2013, aiming to establish specific protection for children, as they are particularly vulnerable during court proceedings.

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