It’s a funny old world. This morning we codgers spent a long time fretting over the news that four of the six great apes – both types of gorilla and both types of orang-utan – are feared to be on the brink of extinction. Of more than 82,000 species assessed by the IUCN, nearly 30 per cent face extinction. The impending disaster is almost entirely due to the actions of humans – a slaughter comparable to the disappearance of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago when a massive asteroid is thought to have hit what is now Mexico. Meanwhile the rest of the nation is entirely preoccupied with the survival of Ed Balls in Strictly Come Dancing. It is often said that the human race has lost its senses – it certainly seems to have lost its sense of priorities.
But on this drizzly Monday morning our attention was drawn to what is happening around the fringes of the G20 summit in Hangzhou. Our old friend Barack Obama has been banging on about the priority being given by the USA to trade negotiations with the EU, seemingly unaware that they have been torpedoed below the water-line by the French. And there are the first signs that the sainted Theresa’s honeymoon with the great British public may be coming to its end. She has let it be known that the promises made by Boris and his henchmen during the Brexit campaign are unlikely to see the light of day. If that means that we must reconcile ourselves to living with services increasingly swamped by ever growing numbers we can expect trouble ahead.
As we rested from our avian-related labours in the allotments hut we found ourselves reflecting yet again on the many arguments that went on during the ludicrous referendum campaign. One by one the supposed threats resulting from a departure from Aunty Merkel’s club are turning into so much hot air. At the time the seemingly most valid of these was the supposedly lethal loss of the European Arrest Warrant. We were reminded on an almost daily basis that between 2010 and 2015 no fewer than 6,514 criminals from other EU countries were removed from the UK to face trial abroad, and the UK was able to extradite 796 criminals to face trial here. But when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
European Arrest Warrants are issued by the judiciary of EU member states. By definition, their justice systems are supposedly unimpeachable – hence their membership of the EU. The reality is very different. Last month, the award-winning chief correspondent of Sky News, Stuart Ramsey, reported on alleged gun-running in Romania. The Romanian government’s response was to say his story was a lie. The Romanian authorities responded to the exposure with a formal request for legal assistance into a criminal investigation. The Sky journalists have been charged with spreading false information to the detriment of Romania’s national security. This is the fist step to the issuing of a European Arrest Warrant for the extradition of Ramsay and his film crew.
Under the terms of the Warrant the UK government will have no option than to comply and Ramsay and company will share the fate of others such as Alexander Adamescu, the London-based son of a Romanian newspaper owner, who is on the verge of following his father into jail for criticising the Romanian government.
And Romania is not alone in having a judiciary of dubious integrity. In Poland, the governing Law and Justice party has recently announced legislation that would criminalise references to ‘Polish death camps’. Claiming that Polish people or the Polish state collaborated with the Nazis over the Holocaust would be punished by up to three years in prison. Since Auschwitz is in Poland it is a theme often debated by historians. They may be wrong, but are we seriously prepared to allow the Polish government to simply select and imprison UK citizens for exercising the right of freedom of speech?
There are many examples of the automatic right of EU countries to extradite and give mock trials to Brits. The European Arrest Warrant is based on the theory that judiciaries are all like ours and can be depended upon to authorise warrants only after diligent and independent consideration. That was the case in the early days of a small EU – it most certainly isn’t now.
If as Mrs May insists Brexit means Brexit, we must leave the European Arrest Warrant now irrespective of other possible moves.
QUOTE FOR TODAY: ” Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere “….Martin Luther King, Nobel Peace Prize, 1964.