European Commission
EU Public Prosecutor’s Office begins operating
On Tuesday 1 June, the Luxembourg-based European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) began operating for the first time, after more than two decades of political and legal complications. The office, an independent body of the EU established under the Lisbon Treaty, is to take charge of detecting and prosecuting fraudulent usage of the EU budget, money laundering and corruption, as well as preventing EU money from getting into the hands of organized criminal networks. Laura Kovesi, a Romanian national, was appointed to lead the office as the Chief Prosecutor, after beating out competition from French magistrate Jean-François Bohnert back in October 2019. Kovesi was previously the former chief prosecutor of Romania’s National Anticorruption Directorate. Responding to the news, EU commissioner for Values and Transparency, Vera Jourova, described the office as “a unique body” that will fill an important gap in the bloc’s crackdown on fraud. The Commission’s press statement emphasized that “this opens a new chapter in fighting cross-border crime.” 22 EU countries are to participate in the EPPO initially, with the exception of Denmark, Ireland, Hungary, Poland and Sweden. Sweden however is set to join the EPPO next year. (link)EU expresses concern regarding new digital barriers to deter illegal migration
The Commission has “noted with concern reports in the media” regarding the use of long-range acoustic devices (LRADs) being tested at Greece’s border with Turkey to deter illegal migrants. Greek border police are firing bursts of deafening noise from armoured trucks at the Turkish border, as part of an extensive array of experimental digital barriers – including long-range cameras, sensors and AI technologies – to stop individuals from entering the EU without the requisite documentation. Commission spokesperson Adalbert Jahnz stated that the Commission would be “seeking information from Athens” about the use of the LRADs, indicating the use of the technology could potentially violate EU laws on fundamental rights. While border management remains a Member State competence, Jahnz noted that border police must conform to EU fundamental rights provisions, including the right to dignity, and the principle of non-refoulement, the fundamental principle of international law which forbids countries from returning asylum seekers to countries where they face violence or imminent danger. (link)
·        Cyprus: Cypriot police received a complaint from a company saying that they were scammed into paying more than €40,000 to people posing as their suppliers. The police is now warning citizens to be cautious in relation to online purchasing. (link)

·        Germany: German police carried out raids across Germany and Slovakia in an operation against people smuggling gangs. Two suspects were arrested and several individuals were found at properties in different German states. (link)

·        Hungary: A Hungarian criminal who had evaded police for 11 years was finally captured in Germany. The National Bureau of Investigations said the 33-year-old committed a series of armed robberies as part of a gang. (link)

·        Italy: The Italian rail police found a 16-year-old Tunisian boy that had been missing for 6 months. He had no identity documentation and he was found on a train going from Rome to Siracusa. (link)

·        Latvia: The new Latvian Interior Minister, Marija Golubeva, announced that a competitive remuneration of police officers and other internal affairs workers is her top priority. (link)

·        Luxembourg: According to Luxembourg’s annual police report, burglaries dropped by 23% in 2020. On the other hand, domestic violence, car theft and infractions rose. (link)

·        Spain: In Spain, Police officers seized 860 of black and odourless cocaine in the region of Castilla y León. In total, three suspects were arrested. (link)

·        UK: Police officers saved the life of a stab victim in central London. Officers were driving towards Old Street when they were alerted to a possible stabbing. The team were praised by the roads and transport policing command. (link)

Other news
UK police officers receive more than 7,800 complaints about racist conduct in five years
Several thousand UK police officers have been accused of racist conduct while on duty, as part of more than 7,800 complaints being filed by citizens between 2015 and 2020. However, only 181 complaints – 2.3% of the total – resulted in formal action, with 30 officers fired or having resigned as a result, according to data released under a Freedom of Information request. A significant volume of the complaints referred to police officers making racist comments or posting racist memes on online social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. The Metropolitan Police received the most complaints – 4443 – of all forces. Responding to the released figures, Carl Foulkes of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said: “Where an officer behaves in a racist way, we want them out of policing.” (link)Belgium unable to join Interpol’s missing person’s remains database due to legal technicality
As a result of a legal technicality, it has emerged that Belgian police do not have the authority to join the new Europol database on identifying missing persons’ remains, I-Familia, were they to be found. However, Belgium has a similar database of its own that carries out the same purpose as I-Familia. In May, the Belgian Federal Police’s Missing Person Unit had started a campaign of exhuming 250 sets of human remains which had been buried without identification. In the majority of circumstances, facial recognition or fingerprint identification was not possible, while in other cases remains had been buried before DNA samples had been taken for identification. I-Familia is Interpol’s global database for identifying missing persons’ remains through international DNA matching and cutting-edge scientific research. Yet Belgium is unable to join I-Familia because under Belgian federal law, DNA databases are managed by the Ministry of Justice, not the police themselves. (link)
Look Ahead:

–       7 June: MEPs will vote on amendments to the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), especially in the field of police and judicial cooperation and in the field of borders and visas. The report presented by Jeroen Lenaers (S&D, Netherlands) can be found here.

–       7-8 June: The Justice and Home Affairs Council – Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs from the 27 Member States are meeting in Brussels to discuss topics including: combatting illegal online content, e-justice and the e-CODEX regulation, protection of vulnerable adults, the fight against crime and terrorism, resilience of critical entities and the new pact on migration and asylum. The full agenda of the two-day meeting can be found here.

–       8 June: CEPOL is organising an Webinar entitled “Trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation and victim engagement – Case studies”. More information on the event can be found here.

–       10 June: CEPOL is organising an Webinar entitled “Uncovering child sexual exploitation using interviews of children – a multidisciplinary approach”. More information on the event is available here.

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