Deficiency in the operation of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice

Deficiency in the operation of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice

2013. 05. 23.


Subject:  Deficiency in the operation of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice

In April 2000 Francis Ciaran Tobin caused a road accident which cost the lives of two small children at Leányfalu in Hungary. Because his work contract in Hungary had by then ended, Tobin returned to Ireland in November 2000. In November 2002 the Hungarian court sentenced the Irishman in his absence to 18 months’ imprisonment. Hungary requested the extradition of Francis Tobin from the Dublin authorities, but they refused, citing legal reasons.

Public opinion in Hungary is dissatisfied with the failure to resolve this situation. This does not do any good to perceptions of the area of law and justice, and is a disappointment in terms of the Union’s common policy. For Hungarian public opinion and the Hungarian authorities the main thing is not that Francis Tobin should serve his sentence in Hungary, but that he should serve it somewhere. It is unacceptable that legal loopholes should make it possible for the culprit to live out his days unpunished.

In the light of the above, what instruments does the Presidency have at its disposal to help this case to reach a conclusion that satisfies not just the law but also the interests of justice, thus ensuring the proper functioning of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice?



The European arrest warrant, which replaced the previous system of extradition between the Member States, is based on the principle of mutual recognition and trust.

The Council has evaluated the practical operation of the European arrest warrant in all Member States on the basis of Joint Action 97/827/JHA. A main conclusion of that evaluation(1) is that, in general, the European arrest warrant is operating efficiently.

Besides the European arrest warrant, there are also other legal tools which aim at the strengthening of freedom, security and justice in the European Union. The Council Framework Decision 2008/909/JHA of 27 November 2008 on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to judgments in criminal matters imposing custodial sentences or measures involving deprivation of liberty for the purpose of their enforcement in the European Union sets out the rules whereby judgments that impose custodial sentences or measures involving the deprivation of liberty delivered in one Member State are to be recognised and enforced in another Member State.

The tragic case raised by the Honourable Member relates to a bilateral case which has been dealt with by judicial authorities in the Member States concerned. It is not for the Council to comment on decisions taken by national courts.

(1) 8302/4/09 REV 4.