Next April, Britain is expected to sign up to the next stage of the European Arrest Warrant (there’s always a next stage with any aspect of European integration). This is called Schengen Information II. It will ensure that anyone against whom a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is issued will be detained and deported automatically.
They will be taken to whichever country issued the Arrest Warrant. It may be France or Germany. It may be Romania or Bulgaria or Lithuania. If EU enlargement goes ahead, it may be Croatia or Turkey (think Midnight Express — the nightmare 1978 film in which an American student falls victim to the Turkish penal system). In many of these jurisdictions, the legal system is, to say the least, suspect. I have done some work in Croatia, and I would not expect a foreign accused to get a fair trial there. There may be no habeas corpus, so a British citizen may be detained indefinitely awaiting trial. There may not even be English translation of court proceedings.
The Arrest Warrant (we should be careful not to call it extradition, which unlike the Arrest Warrant is subject to due process in the UK) can apply to relatively trivial offences, like traffic violations or (in one case, apparently) stealing a chicken, subsequently returned.
The EAW caused considerable disquiet when it was first introduced, but we were assured that it was necessary to deal with terrorist suspects and international criminal gangs. No one mentioned traffic violations.
The first duty of the state is to protect its citizens, and in Britain the citizen is entitled to due process, to a fair trial (in English), and to habeas corpus. This new development strikes a massive blow against these basic rights of the British people. It is estimated that under the new system the number sent abroad subject to an EAW may increase from the current 500 or so a year to perhaps 1500.
Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve has quite rightly attacked the extension of the EAW. I would like the Party to go further, and to include in our General Election Manifesto a clear commitment to withdraw our country from the whole EAW process. British people are entitled to British justice.