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Mutual assistance in criminal matters between Member States
The Council has adopted a Convention to facilitate mutual judicial assistance between the authorities of the Member States (police, customs and courts) in order to improve the speed and efficiency of judicial cooperation.
Council Act of 29 May 2000 establishing in accordance with Article 34 of the Treaty on European Union the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union.
The purpose of this Convention is to encourage and facilitate mutual assistance between judicial, police and customs authorities on criminal matters. In particular, it supplements the 1959 Council of Europe Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, and its 1978 Protocol.
Requests for mutual assistance
As a general rule, requests for mutual assistance are made in writing, transmitted and executed directly by the judicial authorities with territorial competence. However, certain requests must be sent via the central authorities of Member States (requests for temporary transfer or transit of persons held in custody, and sending of notices of information from judicial records). In emergencies, requests may be made via Interpol or any body competent under provisions introduced pursuant to the Treaty on European Union (EU).
The Member State which is requested to provide mutual assistance (Requested State) must comply with the formalities and procedures specified by the Member State which made the request (Requesting State) and shall execute the request as soon as possible, taking as full account as possible of the procedural deadlines indicated.
Member States must send procedural documents intended for persons who are in the territory of another Member State to them directly by post. In some cases, the documents may be sent via the competent authorities of the requested Member State.
A judicial authority or a central authority in one Member State may make direct contact with a police or customs authority from another Member State or, in respect of requests for mutual assistance in relation to proceedings, with an administrative authority from another Member State. Member States may refuse to apply this clause or choose to apply it under certain conditions.
A spontaneous exchange of information (i.e. without prior request) may take place between Member States regarding criminal offences and administrative infringements the punishment or handling of which falls within the competence of the receiving authority.
Specific forms of mutual assistance
Stolen objects that are found in another Member State are to be placed at the disposal of the requesting State with a view to their return to their rightful owners.
A person held on the territory of a Member State which has requested an investigation may, with the agreement of the competent authorities, be temporarily transferred to the territory of the Member State in which the investigation is to take place,. Where it is required by one of the Member States, the consent of the person concerned is necessary before he can be transferred.
A witness or an expert may be heard by the judicial authorities of another Member State by videoconference if this is not contrary to the fundamental principles of the requested Member State and if all the parties concerned are in agreement.
Controlled deliveries may be permitted on the territory of another Member State within the framework of criminal investigations into extraditable offences. They are to be directed and monitored by the authorities of the requested Member State.
Two or more Member States may set up a joint investigation team the composition of which is to be set out in a joint agreement between the Member States concerned. The team would be set up for a specific purpose and for a limited period of time. An official from the Member State in which the team is operating would coordinate and lead its activities in the territory of that Member State.
Covert investigations may also be carried out by officers acting under covert or false identity, provided that the national law and procedures of the Member State where the investigations take place are complied with.
Interception of telecommunications
The interception of telecommunications may be done at the request of a competent authority from another Member State - a judicial authority or an administrative authority designated for the purpose by the Member State concerned. Communications may either be intercepted and transmitted directly to the requesting Member State or recorded for subsequent transmission.
Interception may also take place on the territory of a Member State in which earth satellite equipment is located. In this case, if the technical assistance of that Member State is not required, the interception is carried out by the service providers in the requesting Member State. Where interception takes place on the territory of a particular Member State because of the location of the subject but no technical assistance is needed, the Member State carrying out the interception should inform the other Member State of its action.
Special position of certain Member States
Special provisions apply to Ireland and the United Kingdom (transmission of requests for assistance), to Luxembourg (protection of personal data) and to Norway and Iceland (provisions linked to the Schengen acquis and the entry into force of the Convention).
The Convention entered into force on 23 August 2005.
|Act||Entry into force||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
Council Act of 29 May 2000
OJ C 197, 12.7.2000
- the website of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Justice - Judicial cooperation