Electronic evidence and international child abduction regulation were discussed during the JHA Council in Luxembourg

Enhancing the effectiveness of prosecuting authorities in investigating cases where access to electronic evidence is required, on the basis of a relevant Commission proposal that foresees that Internet providers will be required to respond to up to 6 hours in emergencies, as regards the investigation of serious crimes perpetrated via the Internet, was at the heart of the discussions of Justice Ministers meeting yesterday in Luxembourg.

Cyprus was represented at yesterdays council by the Minister of Justice and Public Order, Ionas Nicolaou, who welcomed the proposals, recognizing that with the abandonment of the criterion of territoriality, ie the place where electronic data are stored, a serious obstacle which is currently hampering prosecution investigations is lifted.

The Minister of Justice, in his speech, agreed with the Bulgarian Presidencys suggestion to start negotiations with the US on the adoption of procedures to allow electronic data access to providers operating outside the EU. He even pointed out to his counterparts that Cyprus is ready to discuss constructively the proposals and propose solutions that will solve any legal problems that arise at national level.

It should be noted that the new Commission proposals package aims to improve cross-border access to electronic evidence by creating a legal framework for the issuance of judicial orders by national authorities addressed directly to the legal representatives of providers of electronic communications services without the involvement of the authorities of the Member State where the legal representative is established.

The Minister notes that such a development will greatly enhance the Polices capabilities to investigate serious crimes committed through the Internet since access to electronic data held in other countries, so far has been achieved either on the basis of lengthy requests for judicial assistance or by the good will of some of the providers.

Furthermore, according to the Minister, on the basis of the proposal “providers will have to respond within 10 days and within 6 hours in emergencies, thus solving the significant problem of the delay currently faced by national prosecution authorities the transmission of requests for judicial assistance “.

At the same time, the proposed legislation ensures that all service providers offering services in the EU are subject to the same obligations, even if their seat is in a third country, since they are required to designate a legal representative in the EU for the receipt, compliance and execution of judgments and orders issued by the competent authorities of the Member States for the gathering of evidence in criminal proceedings. Finally, the Minister said that the new proposals also offer legal certainty to businesses and include strong guarantees and means of redress, both human rights and citizens personal data.

Moreover, according to a written communication issued by the Minister, the 28 discussed the proposal for a revision of the Regulation governing international child abduction and parental responsibility, which provides that the judge in the Member State where the child is to be found after the kidnapping, with the return decision capability. The proposal also adopts protective measures to accompany the child upon return and to be performed in the Member State of residence.

The Minister notes that in this way the capacity of the judge will be strengthened as it will be easier to circumvent the dangers invoked by the parent who kidnapped the child and to order the return if the necessary conditions are met.

Therefore, on the one hand, the return of the child will be facilitated and, on the other hand, a safe return will be ensured. In addition, the rule concerning the placement of the child in a foster family or institution will be clarified as the approval of the host Member State will be required in all cases of placement.

According to Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou, “although, unlike other Member States, Cyprus does not face any particular problems, the introduction of a clear rule will enhance legal certainty and ensure that the institution has the appropriate conditions to respond to placement requirements “.

In addition, the Minister notes, “It will be ensured that the Member State of affiliation, which has a wider responsibility for the childs life, will be informed of the placement”.

“Furthermore, Member States have confirmed that there should be a single regime for enforcement decisions relating to parental responsibility, with the exception of communication and return decisions, on which it should not be possible to give reasons for refusal to execute in the Member State to be executed”, stressed Minister Nicolaou. “Because of their sensitive nature, all the guarantees for their circulation should be guaranteed by the issuing Member State so that they are carried out swiftly in the other Member State,” the Minister said in the same statement.

According to Minister Nicolaou, the work of the Council is being concluded today with an exchange of views on the multidisciplinary approach in the field of EU internal security in the context of the implementation of the new policy cycle for the three-year period 2018-2021. As mentioned, EU-28 will discuss the impact of the EUs policy cycle on operational cooperation to combat organized and serious international crime as it results from the multidisciplinary nature of the cycle.

Considerable involvement of various law enforcement authorities, such as customs, in the investigation of organized crime, such as the illicit trafficking of cultural goods, firearms, the transfer of stolen objects, as well as cooperation between the competent authorities for the assessment of legislative with regard to the seizure and confiscation of assets from illicit activities.

“Undoubtedly, the multidisciplinary approach will greatly help to tackle cross-border crime, which is changing everyday and has also begun to affect Cyprus”, said the Minister.

“In this context, it is worth highlighting the need to strengthen the coordination and awareness of the competent authorities at national level”, he noted, stressing the need for continued awareness of Civil Society, so that citizens themselves get more involved and are next to the competent authorities, helping to prevent crime.

Source: Cyprus News Agency