EU area of freedom, security & justice under scrutiny at the CESI’s Justice and Security trade councils

On November 15 affiliates of CESI’s member trade unions from the law enforcement and justice sectors met to explore the state of play and the future of the EU’s area of freedom, justice and security. Participants from 8 EU member states and an organisation with observer status from Russia joined active discussions in the trade councils ‘Security’ and ‘Justice’ on the state of rule of law in Europe, personal protective equipment for law enforcement officers, violence at work and access to electronic data.

John Clinton, the President of the trade council ‘Justice’, introduced the topic of personal protective equipment (PPE) for justice and security personnel for debate in order “to get a common ground on what is needed to carry on their tasks and to get forward a standardised type of PPEs for workers in the prison sector across Europe.’ Jean-Claude Delage (Alliance Police Nationale, France) updated the trade council members on the use of PPEs in France, following the latest terrorist attacks, emphasising that since modern threats have escalated to new levels of sophistication, PPEs should also be adapted to the new tools and threats used.

A European Commission representative from the Directorate-General Justice gave an overview of EU mechanisms to maintain the rule of law across Europe, with special attention to aspects related to the independence of the judiciary and the effectiveness of public prosecution.

Members of the Austriam GÖD trade union raised the question of what happens when the right to effective and timely judicial remedies is not fully respected. In reaction to a presentation on the recent EU Justice Scoreboard, CESI members pointed out that they stand on the side of the workers affected by the recent attacks on the independence of the judiciary in Poland, Hungary and Romania and on the academic freedom in Hungary.

In connection to this, Javier Jordán de Urríes from the Spanish CSIF trade union organisation made gave an update about the Spanish protocol set up to avoid violence in prisons. His overview highlighted challenges which are valid in many EU member states, including in the fields of ageing prison staff, workforce shortages, privatisation of prisons, radicalisation among inmates and lacking training of prison officers in social skills for conflict prevention) as well as insufficient rehabilitation programmes for inmates.

CSIF members are currently on strike to ask the government for their right to collective bargaining and for ‘equal pay for equal work’ rights. To support their cause, the members of the CESI Justice and Security trade councils adopted two resolutions, one for the workers in the justice sector and one for the prison staff.

A short video capturing the interventions made at the meeting are available on CESI’s youtube channel.

Picture: The trade councils ‘Justice’ and ‘Security’ in session © CESI 2018