Joint investigation teams (JITs) provide efficiency and synergies in the fight against complex cross-border crimes and are becoming increasingly successful, also with third countries. They are a practical example of how the judiciary and law enforcement can be efficient across borders, enabling the use of special investigative techniques as well as dedicated judicial cooperation tools.
This is one of the main conclusions of the Third JIT Evaluation Report, which has been published by the JITs Network Secretariat together with Eurojust. This latest report on JITs gives judicial and law enforcement practitioners information and guidance on how to get the best results from this cooperation tool when setting up a joint team, as well as in the operational and prosecution phase.
The report is based on findings from nearly 100 evaluations performed by JIT practitioners between November 2017 and November 2019.
The Third JIT Evaluation Report addresses practical issues that need to be arranged in the setting-up stage, such as the good identification of needs of the various national authorities involved and the division of operational priorities. The evaluations once again confirmed that direct communication and personal contacts are essential for efficient cooperation, with members of one JIT pointing out: 'In the early days of the investigations, we talked to each other every day, it was as if we had shared an office.'
The report furthermore provides extensive information on best practices experienced by practitioners in the operational phase, as well as specific challenges, for instance working with countries that are not party to the JIT agreement, and issues concerning the relations between the effectiveness of a JIT and the execution of instruments based on mutual recognition, i.e. European Arrest Warrants and jurisdiction issues. The evaluation pays particular attention to the supporting roles of Eurojust and Europol in the entire process of the setting up of and working with joint investigation teams.
In the report, practitioners can also find information on the status quo concerning JITs involving third States, the main challenges and best practices identified and the possibilities of additional support by Liaison Prosecutors from several third States posted to Eurojust. The number of JITs involving third States has increased through the years. At the time of finalising the report, Eurojust supported 74 JITs that involved third States. By 1 May 2020, this number has increased to 78.
A JIT is one of the most advanced tools used in international cooperation in criminal matters, comprising a legal agreement between competent authorities of two or more States for the purpose of carrying out criminal investigations. Eurojust support to JITs include financial and operational support. Of the 612 JITs supported, 499 were funded by Eurojust. On 1 May 2020, a total of 155 of JITs were ongoing.