Monday, 29 October 2007

Madeleine McCann and EU Diplomacy – Why Gordon Brown Won’t Take the Case Forward

After months of little progress in the attempts by the Portuguese police to solve the Madeleine McCann case, the British Prime Minister has achieved next to nothing in the way of UK support for the investigation into the case. As with similar cases investigating other nationals – including the extradition of the Litvinenko killer from Russia – the UK government has resigned itself to pursuing EU laws and associated diplomatic channels which in short have achieved nothing of any substance.

On Thursday 18 October, prior to agreeing to the Reform Treaty in Lisbon, Brown said he would raise the case of missing Madeleine McCann with the Portuguese PM, José Sócrates. Gordon Brown said: "I have discussed this with him before, to assure myself the police authorities are taking the actions that are necessary and there's proper co-operation between the British and Portuguese police." Brown later returned to the UK, troublingly satisfied that everything necessary was being done.

The lackadaisical approach taken by the UK Government is topped only by its devotion to the EU principle of “mutual recognition”, through which the UK Government must simply wait and abide by the sluggish police and judicial processes of the Portuguese criminal justice system when investigating the cases of UK citizens. The European Council has long asserted the principle: “Implementation of the principle of mutual recognition of decisions in criminal matters presupposes that Member States have trust in each others' criminal justice systems. That trust is grounded, in particular, on their shared commitment to the principles of freedom, democracy and respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.”

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office openly claims that “In order to facilitate judicial co-operation we aim for mutual recognition of judicial decisions …. This means that we accept legitimate judicial decisions issued by other EU member states.”

Jim McConalogue of the European Foundation says:
“In the case of Madeleine McCann, there seems little hope that the UK Government will attempt to put forward a just solution – whatever that may be – since the provisions provided for in the 1968 Brussels Convention, The Treaty of Amsterdam in 1997 and since the EU Summit in Tampere in 1999 have resulted in the UK subjecting itself to a European system of law which carries with it judicial hazards and procedures which are far from satisfactory.”

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