Press Release
21 April 2011

Stephen Hughes, North East Labour MEP has called on the European Commission to crack down on governments that are abusing European arrest warrants to extradite people accused of committing low-level offences, such as one case centring on the theft of a cupboard door.

A report released by EU Commissioner Viviane Reding is the first stage in a review of the system through which the judicial authorities in one European country can request the arrest and extradition of someone from another EU member state.

There are widespread concerns that officials in some countries have been pushing for warrants in far too many cases, placing an extra burden on judicial systems for what often prove to be extremely low level offences.

MEP Stephen Hughes is calling for the Commission to take action to ensure that the EU-wide warrants are used for genuinely serious crimes.

The European Commission has highlighted the fact that dozens of suspected drug smugglers, murderers and child sex crime offenders have been brought back to the UK from Spain thanks to the system.

Commenting on the review, Stephen Hughes MEP, said: "These arrest warrants are being applied in the most ridiculous of cases.  EU arrest warrants were set up to help us extradite murderers, not petty criminals.

"The European Commission needs to come down hard on countries that are abusing the system.

"Unless action is taken, support for these warrants will be eroded and we will lose a vital weapon in the fight against serious crime."