Fair criminal proceedings in Europe: the limits of regulating by legal rules
Location: Maastricht University, TBD
March 19 and 20, 2020
The EU plays an increasingly important role in security and justice-related issues of the Member States. It deals with matters like border control, terrorism, organised crime and criminal justice. EU actions on cooperation in criminal matters aim at improving mutual confidence between Member States' judicial systems. These objectives are sought to be achieved primarily through the approximation of national procedural laws. EU has been criticised for prioritising ‘safety and security’, or effective law enforcement cooperation, over ‘justice’, or the rights of individuals. EU has attempted to address the ‘human rights deficit’, notably, by adopting legislation on procedural rights in criminal proceedings.
Critical voices are increasingly raised concerning whether EU action aimed mainly at harmonising Member States’ criminal procedural laws is sufficient to achieve the above-mentioned objectives. This area is incredibly complex to regulate. It requires expertise in forensic science, psychology, policing and other relevant disciplines. It also requires careful balancing of the various interests and values involved, such as the protection of individual freedoms versus effective law enforcement. Another difficulty is to determine the role of legal regulation, as opposed to ‘soft regulation’ or other measures, in achieving the goals of bringing Member States' criminal justice systems closer to the ‘vision’ embedded in the EU area of freedom, security and justice. Certain concepts, such as ‘vulnerability’ in criminal proceedings, are very difficult, if not impossible, to regulate by law in any meaningful detail. National laws can provide a general definition of ‘vulnerability’; the question then remains how to ensure that national criminal justice institutions adequately deal with vulnerabilities in their daily practice.
The goal of this conference is to identify the impediments to improving cooperation in the area of criminal matters. The method is to bring together experts from various disciplines to discuss the challenges in the ‘harmonisation’ of the criminal procedural systems of the EU Member States by means of legislation.
The following challenges will be discussed:
- Defining certain interdisciplinary concepts, such as ‘risk’, ‘vulnerability’, ‘proof’ or ‘procedural justice' for the purposes of EU legal regulation;
- Determining the paths for ensuring proper enforcement of these concepts: legislation, policy or other paths (including: to what extent these matters could be left to the individual discretion of criminal justice actors)?
- Enforcing the respective regulations and other measures in practice: What are the most important obstacles (culture, lack of expertise/training, funding, etc.)? What is our ‘theory of change’ with respect to enforcement by Member States’ governments, national criminal justice institutions, and individual criminal justice actors?
The conference will focus on those concepts, which raise important interdisciplinary questions, and which are subject to the current or prospective EU regulation. It is organised by Dr. Anna Pivaty, Prof. André Klip and Dr. Dorris de Vocht (FoL), Dr. Melanie Sauerland (FHML) with participation from UNU-MERIT (FaSoS).
Thursday 19 March
|12:00 - 12:30||
|12:30 - 13:00||Opening and welcome|
|13:00 - 14:30||
Session 1: EU fair trial standards and ‘procedural justice’.
|14:30 – 15:00||
|15:00 - 16:30||
Session 2: ‘Vulnerability’ in criminal proceedings.
|16:30 - 18:00||
Book launch A. Pivaty ‘Criminal Defence at Police Stations: A Comparative and Empirical Study’
|18:00 - 21:00||Reception/walking dinner|
Friday 20 March
|9:00 – 11:00||
Session 3: Standard and burden of proof in criminal proceedings.
|11:00 – 11:30||Coffee break|
|11:30 - 13:00||
Session 4: Forensic expert evidence in (cross-border) criminal proceedings.
|13:00 – 14:00||Lunch|
|14:00 – 15:30||
Session 5: Risk of re-offending: pre-trial detention and sentencing.
|15:00 – 15:30||Closing remarks|
Participation fee (regular participants or non-speakers):
50 EUR - for students/PhDs
100 EUR - for others
Registration by 1 February 2020. (Click on the green button on the right side of this page.)
Participation as speaker in individual panels is by invitation only. Speakers will present their responses and remarks on the questions suggested by organisers. Limited financial support is available for conference speakers. If you would like to act as a speaker, please contact Dr. Anna Pivaty at a.pivaty[at]maastrichtuniversity[dot]nl outlining the reasons for your interest.