The European Union, A Prison of Nations

The European Union, A Prison of Nations by • June 6, 2008 • Printer-friendly

Srdja TrifkovicVarious multiethnic states (imperial Russia, the Habsburg Monarchy, pre-World War II Kingdom of Yugoslavia) have been labeled—often unfairly—as “prisons of nations.” That designation will apply more aptly to the European Union when the Lisbon Treaty, signed by all 27 EU heads of states or governments last December, takes effect next year. Under the “European Arrest Warrant,” which is to be implemented under the terms of the Treaty, every citizen or visitor of a member country the European Union will be liable to arrest and extradition at the behest of a judge in any other EU member-country, under one of 32 vaguely defined categories of “crime.”

This is a momentous development, and not one in a hundred EU citizens, let alone non-EU visitors to Europe, are fully aware of its implications.

Those 32 offenses, according to the drafters of the Treaty, “if they are punishable in the issuing Member State by a custodial sentence or a detention order for a maximum period of at least three years and as they are defined by the law of the issuing Member State, shall, under the terms of this Framework Decision and without verification of the double criminality of the act, give rise to surrender pursuant to a European arrest warrant.”

The list of 32 offenses includes criminal conspiracy, terrorism, human trafficking, child pornography, smuggling of drugs, weapons and explosives, fraud and money laundering, murder, kidnapping, forgery, etc. It also includes “racism and xenophobia,” as well as “computer crime” and “crimes under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.” The local police will be obliged to arrest the indicted person and have him transferred to the issuing judge’s court for trial—and they will have to act regardless of their country’s judicial system or penal code.

Once the person is at the local court, he will be at the mercy of the local laws. The involvement of the ICC implies possible further extradition to non-EU countries. The Warrant is already in force in eight EU countries (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom). An initial hearing takes place before a judge within 48 hours merely to establish the identity of the arrested (habeus corpus) and whether the arrest warrant has been filled in correctly. Additional information from the state that issued the arrest warrant may be requested. The major difference between extradition and EAW procedures is that the “hearing” in the latter process does not consider the allegations against the defendant or examine evidence. Instead, the hearing is merely meant to satisfy the court that no “legal bars to surrender” apply.

The European Arrest Warrant was one of the main topics at the recent Counter-Jihad Summit in Vienna, where the former Austrian Ambassador Edgar K. Selzer gave a detailed talk on the implications of this new weapon against freedom of speech in the EU. Dr. Selzer pointed out that the inclusion of “racism and xenophobia” brings “an emotion, a sentiment” into the category of major crimes, such as murder, arson etc, which is a legal and logical absurdity.

The European Arrest Warrant does not define “racism and xenophobia” as such, but its drafters have relied on the European Commission’s “Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia” which criminalizes “belief in race colour, descent, religion or belief, national or ethnic origin as a factor determining aversion to individuals.” The Decision mandates that “racist and xenophobic behaviour must constitute an offence in all Member States and be punishable by effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties.” This framework decision will apply to all “offences” committed within the territory of the European Union, or “for the benefit of a legal person established in a Member State.”

The implications of all this are significant, for the future of civil liberties in the Western world no less than for me personally.

On May 11, I gave a speech at the Counter-Jihad Summit in Vienna. As our readers are well aware, “racism and xenophobia” in the EU-speak have long included the nebulous thought-crime of “Islamophobia”—and my speech could be construed as paradigmatically “Islamophobic” by the drafters of the EU Framework Decision, and accordingly acted upon by the future users of the European Arrest Warrant.

I am not an EU citizen, but that is immaterial if the “offence” was committed in an EU member-country. Once the European Arrest Warrant is in force, a Muslim-friendly judge in, say, Leicester or Birmingham could issue a warrant for my arrest in Greece—where I often go during the summer— for the “offence” committed by giving that speech in Austria last May, and the authorities in Thessaloniki or Athens would have to comply, no questions asked.

Furthermore, the speech was given at a gathering of 60 like-minded persons, most of them EU citizens. This constitutes a criminal conspiracy, a separate offense among those 32 crimes covered by the Warrant, since the Framework Decision defines a “racist or xenophobic group” as “a structured organisation consisting of at least two persons established for a specific period.” The speech was given to the Karl Martell Society, i.e. “for the benefit of a legal person established in a Member State.”

Last but not least, the said speech is widely available on the Internet, in both German and English, which potentially falls under the separate and as yet undefined offence of “computer crime.” Such EAWs have been issued already by British judges to Dutch authorities demanding the surrender of a Danish citizen in a case involving pornography.

Interestingly, under the Framework Decision, anything that is said at a John Randolph Club conference here in the United States may be deemed illegal and actionable under the European Arrest Warrant, if the offending speech or statement is posted on a website (such as that is downloadable within the EU, or if some supposedly “racist and xenophobic” material written by one of our editors or contributors is distributed by mailing Chronicles to a subscriber or an institution in the EU. This would be actionable under the Framework Decision as “public dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures or other material containing expressions of racism and xenophobia,” potentially subjecting the author to arrest in any EU country on a warrant issued by a judge in any other EU country.

Orwell was prescient but his date was wrong, a quarter-century premature.

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