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Justice Ministers today discussed pre-trial detention, children's rights and the European Public Prosecutor's Office

The meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council that took place today in Luxembourg was chaired by Minister Marjan Dikaučič. The ministers discussed the issue of pre-trial detention and the conditions in detention facilities.

Minister Dikaučič said, "Detention is at the heart of the criminal justice system, but differences in detention conditions can affect mutual trust and could therefore hamper cooperation in criminal matters across the EU. Today's productive debate reflected our shared commitment to continue to improve detention conditions and will serve as a guide for the Commission's further work in this area."

The Council took note of the current situation regarding the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), which became operational on 1 June this year. Together with the Commission, European Chief Prosecutor Laura Kövesi presented the state of play over the first months of its operation. The work of the EPPO has recently seen progress, especially in developing relations with third countries and international organisations, with a view to ensuring that, in this initial phase, all participating EU member states recognise the EPPO as the competent judicial authority under the European Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters from 1959.

At the meeting, the justice ministers failed to reach a consensus on Council conclusions on the strategy on the rights of the child, which, in addition to children’s rights in the justice system, also address children’s rights relating to the use of digital tools, and the right of all children to social inclusion and non-discrimination. "The Slovenian Presidency worked hard to reach a compromise, but unfortunately it could not be achieved at this meeting. We are determined to continue negotiations with EU member states at the technical level with the aim of reaching a compromise solution."

At a working lunch, the ministers discussed the issue of strategic lawsuits to prevent public participation (SLAPP). Together with the Vice-President of the European Commission, Věra Jourová, they shared the experience of EU member states in combating these abuses, discussed the existence of their cross-border dimension and possible future initiatives in this area at the EU level. Minister Dikaučič said that media freedom and pluralism were "essential for the functioning of European democracies and key factors of the rule of law". He continued by saying, "Within the European Union, member states have a general duty to ensure that journalists and representatives of civil society are protected from any harmful interference in their daily mission of informing citizens."

Justice and Home Affairs Council, 7-8 October 2021

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