There are many bones of contention tumbling out of the Pandora’s box that is Brexit, but few are quite as concerning as continental security and law enforcement. Both Britain and the EU have come to rely heavily on the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) since it was introduced in 2004; the UK opted back into the EAW in 2014 after a one-year hiatus. Since its inception, the EAW has facilitated the extradition of thousands of criminals between the UK and other EU member states.
Against the backdrop of Brexit, senior figures in Brussels argue that leaving the EU necessarily entails relinquishing participation in the EAW and giving up access to continental databases such as Europol and the Schengen Information System (SIS). This state of affairs has alarmed the British political establishment. As Claude Moraes, the Labour MEP who chairs the European parliament’s justice and home affairs put it on May 10th, there are real concerns that the UK could become a “Costa del Crime.”
Cracking down on cross-border criminals
Over the last seven years, the EAW has resulted in 2,300 arrests of suspected criminals in other countries and extradition to the UK. That works out to around one arrest every day, highlighting the importance of the tool in tracking down wanted persons. Several high-profile cases have hammered this point home recently, from the murderer who absconded to Ireland and evaded British authorities for more than 15 years to the complex and highly publicized case of Alexander Adamescu.
As Private Eye recently reported, Adamescu is wanted in Romania to face allegations of bribing judges, charges which he claims are politically motivated and which critics of the EAW say underline how the system can be abused by countries where corruption is rife. Adamescu has fought deportation back to Romania for several years, arguing he would be denied a fair trial and that inhumane conditions in Romanian jails led to the death of his father. His crusade has received the backing of prominent Brexiteers, such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, as well as a host of right-leaning organisations and pressure groups.
However, a crucial piece of evidence in Adamescu’s defense – a document corroborating his condemnation of the Romanian justice system, purportedly from the Romanian National Administration of Penitentiaries – was recently found to be fake, just days after Adamescu bragged to a British tabloid about those very same documents. The revelation has left his defence in disarray and his supporters’ attacks on the EAW in tatters. His bail was revoked and, thanks to the EAW, Adamescu is now awaiting extradition back to Romania instead of evading justice in London’s posh suburbs.
Other EU member states put just as much effort into sending British criminals back home to face trial. Spain in particular has returned fugitives to the UK in droves, thanks to a long-running joint task force with local authorities dubbed Operation Captura. Some 81 UK nationals have been apprehended to date, including Jamie Acourt, the drug lord allegedly involved in the brutal killing of Stephen Lawrence in 1993.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is well aware of the stakes. Earlier this year, she lodged proposals for the UK to retain its security privileges in the interests of both parties. As Home Secretary, May was a keen advocate of the EAW and cited several statistics on its efficacy at the time. Chief among these was the expediency of the arrangement: May pointed to how it had taken more than 10 years to extradite Rachid Radma, the man accused of the 1995 Paris bombings, from Britain to France without the EAW. By contrast, Hussain Oman – the terrorist responsible for the London Underground bombing in 2005 – was deported to Britain from Italy in just 56 days.
Despite the obvious advantages of the status quo, Brussels is adamant that Britain won’t be able to have its cake and eat it too after it leaves the bloc. Until now, the UK has enjoyed the comparative privilege of opting out of almost 100 European security measures it deemed extraneous while participating in 35 it has hand-picked. European officials insist that exceptional freedom to choose will no longer be available after its departure from the EU.
Senior Eurocrats point to Denmark as an illustrative example. The Nordic country voted to leave Europol in 2015, and although it still enjoys access to the database, it holds no voting rights on EU security laws. The outcome still rankles Denmark, so Britain can hardly expect a better deal after leaving.
One compromise could be an extradition agreement similar to the one in place between the EU and Iceland and Norway, though that arrangement took 13 years to finalize and is still not without its drawbacks. In any case, a scenario in which the post-Brexit UK keeps the same benefits it has now appears to be fanciful at best and delusional at worst.
Britain needs cooperation now more than ever
The recent breakdown in Russo-British relations only makes the need for a robust security and law enforcement framework even more imperative. Russia has become a major investor in the British economy over recent years; there are 57 majority-Russian companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, more than anywhere else outside of Moscow. Much of this wealth is suspected of links to corruption, with £190 million of UK property subject to criminal investigations over the origins of the money involved.
At a time when the UK is still reeling from its all-too-liberal embrace of Russian investment and the fall-out from the alleged poisoning of a Russian spy on British soil, the UK the EAW more than ever. Otherwise, it could become a haven not just for dirty money but dangerous criminals as well.
Time to Tackle the Stigma Behind Wartime Rape
The youngest capital city in Europe, Pristina, is the ultimate hybrid of old and new: Ottoman-era architecture stands amongst communist paraphernalia, while Kosovars who lived through the bloodshed of the 20th century share family dinners with a generation of young people with their sights set on EU accession.
This month, the capital’s Kosovo Museum welcomed a new force for change; Colours of Our Soul, an exhibition of artwork from women who survived the sexual violence of the Yugoslav Wars, showcases the world as these women “wished it to be.”
Colours of Our Soul isn’t the first art installation to shine a light on the brutal sexual violence thousands of Kosovar victims suffered throughout the turmoil of the conflict which raged from 1988 to 1999. In 2015, Kosovo-born conceptual artist Alketa Xhafa-Mripa transformed a local football pitch into a giant installation, draping 5,000 dresses over washing lines to commemorate survivors of sexual violence whose voices otherwise tend to go unheard. “I started questioning the silence, how we could not hear their voices during and after the war and thought about how to portray the women in contemporary art,” said Xhafa-Mripa at the time.
Victims, and their children, pressed into silence
The silence Xhafa-Mripa speaks of is the very real social stigma faced by survivors of sexual violence in the wake of brutal conflict. “I would go to communities, but everyone would say, ‘Nobody was raped here – why are you talking about it?’”, remarked Feride Rushiti, founder of the Kosovo Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims (KRCT).
Today, KRCT has more than 400 clients— barely a scratch on the surface given that rape was used in Kosovo as an “instrument of war” as recently as two decades ago. Some 20,000 women and girls are thought to have been assaulted during the bloody conflict; the fact that the artists whose work is featured in the Colours of our Soul exhibition did not sign their work or openly attend the installation’s grand opening is a sign of how pervasive the stigma is which haunts Kosovar society to this day.
As acute as this stigma is for the women who were assaulted, it is far worse for the children born from rape, who have thus far been excluded from reparation measures and instead dismissed as “the enemy’s children.” In 2014, the Kosovar parliament passed a law recognising the victim status of survivors, entitling them to a pension of up to 220 euros per month. Their children, however, many of whom were murdered or abandoned in the face of community pressure, are barely acknowledged in Kosovar society and have become a generation of young adults who have inherited the bulk of their country’s dark burden.
A global problem
It’s a brutal stigma which affects children born of wartime rape all over the world. The Lai Dai Han, born to Vietnamese mothers raped by South Korean soldiers, have struggled for years to find acceptance in the face of a society that views them as dirty reminders of a war it would rather forget. The South Korean government has yet to heed any calls for formal recognition of sexual violence at the hands of Korean troops, let alone issue a public— and long-awaited— apology to the Lai Dai Han or their mothers.
In many cases, as in the case of Bangladesh’s struggle for independence, the very existence of children born from rape has often been used as a brutal weapon by government forces and militants alike. Official estimates indicate that a mammoth 200,000 to 400,000 women were raped by the Pakistani military and the supporting Bihari, Bengali Razakar and al-Badr militias in the early 1970s. The children fathered, at gunpoint, by Pakistani men were intended to help eliminate Bengali nationhood.
Their surviving mothers are now known as “Birangana”, or “brave female soldier,” though the accolade means little in the face of a lifetime of ostracization and alienation. “I was married when the soldiers took me to their tents to rape me for several days and would drop me back home. This happened several times,” one so-called Birangana explained, “So, my husband left me with my son and we just managed to exist.”
No end in sight
Unfortunately, this barbaric tactic of rape and forced impregnation is one that is still being used in genocides to this day. The subjugation of the Rohingya people, for example, which culminated in a murderous crackdown last year by Myanmar’s military, means an estimated 48,000 women will give birth in refugee camps this year alone. Barring a major societal shift, the children they bear will suffer ostracization similar to that seen in Kosovo, Vietnam and Bangladesh.
Initiatives like the Colours of Our Soul installation in Pristina are not only central in helping wartime rape survivors to heal, but also play a vital role in cutting through the destructive stigma for violated women and their children. Even so, if the number of women who submitted their paintings anonymously is anything to go by, true rehabilitation is a long way ahead.
EU–South Africa Summit: Strengthening the strategic partnership
At the 7th European Union–South Africa Summit held in Brussels Leaders agreed on a number of steps to reinforce bilateral and regional relations, focusing on the implementation of the EU-South Africa Strategic Partnership. This includes economic and trade cooperation and pursuing the improvement of business climate and opportunities for investment and job creation which are of mutual interest.
Leaders also discussed common global challenges, such as climate change, migration, human rights, committing to pursue close cooperation both at bilateral level and on the global stage. A number of foreign and security policy issues, including building and consolidating peace, security and democracy in the African continent and at multilateral level were also raised. Leaders finally committed to work towards a prompt resolution of trade impediments affecting smooth trade flows.
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission and Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, represented the European Union at the Summit. South Africa was represented by its President, Cyril Ramaphosa. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen and Commissioner for trade Cecilia Malmström also participated, alongside several Ministers from South Africa.
President Juncker said: “The European Union, for the South African nation, is a very important trade partner. We are convinced that as a result of today’s meeting we will find a common understanding on the open trade issues. South Africa and Africa are very important partners for the European Union when it comes to climate change, when it comes to multilateralism. It is in the interest of the two parties – South Africa and the European Union – to invest more. It will be done.” A Joint Summit Statement issued by the Leaders outlines amongst others commitment to:
Advance multilateralism and rules based governance
Leaders recommitted to work together to support multilateralism, democracy and the rules-based global order, in particular at the United Nations and global trade fora. South Africa’s upcoming term as an elected member of the United Nations Security Council in 2019-2020 was recognised as an opportunity to enhance cooperation on peace and security. As part of their commitment to stronger global governance, Leaders stressed their support to the process of UN reform, including efforts on the comprehensive reform of the UN Security Council and the revitalisation of the work of the General Assembly. Leaders reiterated their determination to promote free, fair and inclusive trade and the rules-based multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organisation at its core and serving the interest of all its Members.
Leaders agreed to step up collaboration in key areas such as climate change, natural resources, science and technology, research and innovation, employment, education and training including digital skills, health, energy, macro-economic policies, human rights and peace and security. The EU and South Africa will, amongst others, explore the opportunities provided by the External Investment Plan. Linked to this, Leaders committed to exploring opportunities for investment, technical assistance including project preparation, and the improvement of business and investment climates to promote sustainable development. Leaders welcomed the conclusion and provisional implementation in 2016 of the EU-Southern African Development Community (SADC) – Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
Leaders also committed to find mutually acceptable solutions to impediments to trade in agriculture, agri-food and manufactured goods. They agreed to work towards a prompt resolution of these impediments.
Leaders welcomed the new Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs put forward by the European Commission. They exchanged views on foreign and security policy issues, addressed a number of pressing situations in the neighbourhoods of both the EU and South Africa, and welcomed each other’s contribution to fostering peace and security in their respective regions. Leaders agreed to explore opportunities to enhance cooperation on peace and security, conflict prevention and mediation.
Leaders confirmed common resolve to reform the future relationship between the EU and the countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States. To this end they are looking forward to the successful conclusion of negotiations for a post-Cotonou Partnership Agreement, that will contribute to attaining the goals of both the United Nations 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the long-term vision for African continent – Agenda 2063.
Macron so far has augmented French isolation
French President Emmanuel Macron has recently criticized the unilateral pullout of the US from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) but at the same time expressed pleasure that Washington has allowed France and the other JCPOA signatories to stay in the Iran nuclear deal.
In an exclusive interview with the CNN, Macron said that he has “a very direct relationship” with Trump. “Trump is a person who has tried to fulfill his electoral promises, as I also try to fulfill my promises, and I respect the action that Trump made in this regard. But I think we can follow things better, due to our personal relationship and talks. For instance, Trump has decided to withdraw from the Iran pact, but at the end, he showed respect for the signatories’ decision to remain in the JCPOA.”
There are some key points in Macron’s remarks:
First, in 2017, the French were the first of the European signatories to try to change the JCPOA. They tried to force Iran to accept the following conditions: Inspection of military sites, application of the overtime limitation on nuclear activities, limiting regional activities, including missile capabilities within the framework of the JCPOA.
Macron had already made commitments to President Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to push Iran to accept the additional protocols to the deal, and he pushed to make it happen before Trump left the JCPOA.
Second, after the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, although France expressed regret, they had secret negotiations with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the JCPOA.
The result of the undisclosed talks was deliberate delay on the part of the European authorities in providing a final package to keep the Iran deal alive. In other words, after the US unilaterally left the JCPOA, the French have been sloppy and maybe somewhat insincere about making the practical moves to ensure it would be saved.
Third, France has emphasized the need to strengthen their multilateralism in the international system and has become one of the pieces of the puzzle that completes the strategic posture of the Trump Administration in the West Asia region.
Obviously, French double standards have irritated European politicians, many of whom have disagreed with the contradictory games of French authorities towards the US and issues of multilateralism in the international community. Also, France’s isolation and its strategic leverage in the political arena has grown since the days of Sarkozy and Hollande. Some analysts thought that Macron and fresh policies would stop this trend, but it has not occurred.
First published in our partner MNA
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