Cyprus hails adoption of new regulation on pre-trail seizure of criminal proceeds by the EU28

The EU28 Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs, meeting today in Brussels, agreed on a new regulation on the confiscation of property which is the product of a crime before final conviction, and on a proposal for a revision of the Regulation on jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and matters of parental responsibility.

Minister of Justice and Public Order of Cyprus Ionas Nicolaou, participated in the meeting. The EU28 also exchanged views on the maintenance of telecommunications data, encryption and the cooperation of telecommunication providers with Europol and Eurojust.

In his intervention, during the debate on the new confiscation regulation, Nicolaou praised the importance of the new framework proposed, which builds on the existing European acquis and provides increased possibilities for Member States both for preventive and suppressive action.

As he said, the possibility of seizure of assets without a conviction is a very powerful weapon for the competent national authorities during the prevention and repression of cross-border crime.

Furthermore, he said, that the extension of the scope and the possibility of confiscation of assets in other Member States deprives those involved in organized crime involving corruption the ability to conceal the assets they are securing and which are the product of an illegal activity.

The EU28 have decided to adopt new effective measures to combat cross-border crime, including corruption, which will allow Member States to confiscate and confiscate property that is the product of crime without the prior conviction decision.

This arrangement will in fact allow law enforcement authorities to secure confiscation orders which are linked to criminal activities, ahead of criminal proceedings. In this way, the competent authorities will be able to act immediately, freezing suspects assets before a conviction, which will act as a deterrent to corruption.

The new proposal also provides for a wider scope extending the application of confiscation orders to assets outside the territory of the Member State concerned, thus limiting the possibility of concealing the proceeds of illegal activities. These new arrangements provide additional tools to Member States prosecution authorities, making prosecution procedures more effective and less time consuming.

Regarding the proposal to revise the Regulation on jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and parental responsibility, Minister Nicolaou pointed out that Cyprus agrees with the effort to find a solution for the abolition of exequatur in all parental responsibility decisions.

He stressed that the solution to be agreed should aim above all to protect children themselves, to preserve their relationship with their parents and to re-establish these relations as soon as possible.

Further, he stated that speeding up and simplifying procedures, as well as reducing costs for the parties involved, should also be achieved. As far as the possibility of refusal is concerned, he explained that the reasons for refusal should be absolutely clear and as narrow as possible so that we do not lead to a second trial.

Finally, Jonas Nicolaou pointed out that in order to enable Member States to have a final view on how the system for implementing cross-border decisions would be, specific issues related to the issue, such as the bypass mechanism, should be clarified.

During the debate on data decryption, the Minister of Justice pointed out that this issue is interlinked with the issue of maintaining telecommunications data, which should also be addressed. In this context, he voiced his support for the technical measures proposed by the European Commission in its communication of 13 October, and stressed that ways of implementing them at national level should be found.

He referred to the importance of education, the need for cooperation with the private sector and, in particular, the initiation of consultation with providers and cooperation with Europol and Eurojust. He stressed that any solution should take account human rights, the principle of proportionality and, at the same time, ensure legitimacy in the process of collecting the data.

Finally Nikolaou stressed the need to limit the categories of data that could be retained and to ensure the protection of the stored data against the risks of abuse. He also said that the retention period should be limited to what is absolutely necessary, so that the impact on individual freedoms and rights is reduced to a minimum.

Source: Cyprus News Agency