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Northumbria Law School researcher helps international cross-border justice project

A Northumbria University academic has added his expertise to an international handbook for cross-border cooperation on crime and justice – a project funded by the European Union.

Professor Mohamed Elewa Badar, Chair of Comparative and International Criminal Law at Northumbria Law School and member of Northumbria’s Centre for Evidence and Criminal Justice Studies (NCECJ), jointly drafted the 370-page EuroMed Justice Handbook on International Cooperation in Criminal Matters.

The project received €25,000 in funding from the European Union as part of its EuroMed Justice IV project to contribute to the development of effective Euro-Mediterranean judicial and law enforcement cooperation in criminal matters in the European Neighbourhood South Partner Countries (ENSPC).

This project relates to the European Neighbourhood South Partner Countries (ENSPC), namely, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia. Its objective is to establish a system of cooperation based on three levels: a) National platforms for coordination; b) Regional platforms (South-South or Mediterranean); and c) EuroMed Justice platforms (North-South or Euro-Mediterranean).

The handbook is designed to be used by central authorities and other national judicial authorities, criminal justice practitioners, including judges and prosecutors, who are involved in international legal assistance.

As one of the international experts in criminal matters and the principal investigator who worked on the legal and gap analysis to produce the handbook, Professor Badar, explains:

“To effectively investigate and prosecute trans-border crime such as terrorism and cybercrime, close cooperation is required between States. The international mobility of offenders and the use of advanced technology make it more necessary than ever that law enforcement, prosecutors and judicial authorities collaborate and assist the State that has assumed jurisdiction over the matter.

“Hence, an easy-going and user-friendly handbook was needed in order to enhance the international cooperation in criminal matters between the European neighbourhood South Partner Countries. The handbook provides guidance on mutual legal assistance, extradition, transfer of sentenced persons, conflict of jurisdiction and transfer of proceedings.”

Examples of some of the information contained within the handbook include; step-by-step advice on how to initiate and follow through on the processes of cross-border cooperation on cybercrime, terrorism, money laundering and asset recovery. Practical guidance on the wider use of special investigation techniques including cross border surveillance and the use of joint investigation teams (JITs).

Several of the activities within the project were developed in cooperation with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, United Nations Counterterrorism Executive Directorate, Council of Europe-European Committee on Crime Problems, EuroMed Police and the International Association of Prosecutors.

The project is managed by a consortium led by the Fundación Internacional y para Iberoamérica de Administración y Políticas Publicas – FIIAPP (Spain) with its Partners from the Centre for International Legal Cooperation – CILC (the Netherlands), the European Institute of Public Administration – EIPA (the Netherlands) and Justice Coopération Internationale – JCI (France).

The second phase of the project ‘Training of Trainers’ on judicial cooperation in criminal matters will begin in October, in Malta, where Professor Badar will continue his collaboration with EuroMed Justice.

Professor Badar adds: “There is a follow-up plan to examine the significance of the handbook and how it enhances the judicial systems of the eight South-Partner Countries (SPCs). We will look at the effect the training manual has had on practice or procedure in courts, and how the manual has changed thinking or opinion regarding cooperation in criminal matters between the SPCs.”

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