Sir Neil MacCormick MEP
and Ian Hudghton MEP
Scottish National Party in the European Parliament
(A letter for the attention of Members of the European Parliament)
January 31, 2002
This letter is a specific appeal to you to support the idea of a 'European habeas corpus order' by supporting our amendment to the Watson Report on the European Arrest Warrant. By doing so you will make available to Europeans everywhere a protection of liberty that is an essential accompaniment of the extension of police powers implicit in the European Arrest Warrant. If Parliament rejects the amendment, your constituents will be deprived of a legal remedy that has for centuries been considered an essential bulwark of their liberty. Not only does the amendment incorporate the common law concept of 'habeas corpus', but it also builds in a fundamental rule of Scots law protecting citizens from over-long pre-trial detention, namely the '110 day rule' that is commonly considered the Scottish equivalent of habeas corpus.
This is NOT a wrecking amendment. It is a plea that we should not extend powers of prosecuting authorities to effect arrests in other jurisdictions without ensuring that the courts in the country executing the warrant can revoke it if it is abused. If it is not abused, the remedy will not be used. If the remedy exists, abuse is less likely. Therefore this amendment strengthens and improves the Arrest Warrant idea, and should be adopted. Do you wish to say to your constituents that you think either habeas corpus or the 110 day rule can be dispensed with in cross border arrests, though remaining in full operation for in-country proceedings?
A copy of the amendment is attached for your consideration.
Neil MacCormick, Ian Hudghton