Fine Gael MEP for Dublin Brian Hayes has today (Wednesday) said that the EU Commission will extend powers to allow judges to check whether an accused person has a criminal record in another Member State.
“Under the European Criminal Records information System (ECRIS) judges can currently check criminal records and fingerprints of an accused EU citizen via one single request rather than through 27 individual requests to other EU member states. It is now proposed by the Commission that this will be extended to non-EU nationals.
“This important decision will help to determine easily whether a guilty party was previously convicted in another Member State. In 2014 there were 688,354 convictions of non-EU citizens across the EU, but in only 3 percent of these cases did judges request to see if the individuals on trial had convictions in other EU countries.
“The ECRIS was originally implemented by a large majority of Member States in April 2012, to create an efficient exchange of information on criminal convictions throughout the EU. There has always been a concern that national courts in EU member states often pass sentences without any knowledge of previous convictions that a guilty party may have in other EU countries.
“However challenges still currently remain in relation to convicted non- EU nationals. At the moment it is not possible to determine whether non- EU nationals were previously convicted in other EU countries without contacting each country separately.”
“We must improve the system to include non-EU nationals as well as EU nationals to respond to the growing terrorist threats we face today and to ensure a safer European Union for all its citizens.
“The system could also serve to prevent crime through removing the possibility for offenders to escape their criminal past simply by moving from one EU country to another.”