New rules on availability of European criminal records to be tightened up
How can we ensure that someone who has been found guilty of a crime and is banned from certain professional activities cannot do those jobs in another EU Member State? In the light of cross-border crime and the trauma of the Fourniret case, the EP Civil Liberties Committee is backing the introduction of a scheme for swapping data on criminal records. However, the committee wants to see tighter rules on the way the information can be used.
Recent events give added meaning to the report by Agustin Diaz de Mera (EPP-ED, ES) on a draft Council framework decision adopted with just two abstentions by the Civil Liberties Committee on Thursday. This legislation would make it possible to prevent paedophiles convicted in one Member State from taking a job looking after children in another state. In the run-up to the vote, the EP rapporteur mentioned several times the case of serial killer Michel Fourniret, who was able to work as a supervisor in a Belgian school while he was banned from doing the same in France after being convicted there.
Under the new legislation, if an individual from one Member State is convicted in another state, the latter must forward certain data from that person’s criminal record to the state of his/her nationality.
Each Member State will have to designate an authority to store data from the criminal records of its own nationals and the data must be updated systematically so it can be consulted by any judicial authority of the Union that makes a request.
Beefing up the Council’s text
MEPs want to improve the legislation by making the exchanged data easier to read, for example by including a special section on convictions for sex crimes.
They also want national authorities to be required to give information on disqualifications arising from a criminal conviction (in the draft text this is optional).
MEPs concerned about data protection
The committee report also calls for better data protection by banning the processing of certain information (on racial and ethnic origin, political opinions, sexual orientation or health), except where a court mandate is issued.
Lastly, the draft framework decision envisages the creation of a computerised system of data exchange on criminal convictions using a standard format. This would allow data to be swapped on the person as well as the form, content and facts of the conviction, using a standard, computerised format that would allow for automated translation.