The European Commissioners for Justice and Home Affairs, Mr Didier Reynders and Ms Ylva Johansson, visited the Agency today to discuss the next steps in view of the amendment of the Eurojust Regulation. The European Parliament adopted the amendment last week, which would enable Eurojust to gather and store evidence on core international crimes committed in Ukraine. The amendment now needs to be adopted by the Council of the European Union. The visit of both Commissioners had been postponed since they took up their functions, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eurojust President Mr Ladislav Hamran said: 'It is a great honour and pleasure to welcome both Commissioners here, at Eurojust, after we had to postpone their visit in view of the pandemic. The swift action of the European Commission to amend our Regulation, in order to collect, store, share and analyse evidence on core international crimes, shows our resolve to take the necessary steps to be able to get justice done for the victims. I am also delighted that we have now had the time to present the work of our Agency, whilst we are working at full speed to support the work of judicial authorities to counter cross-border crime and core international crimes committed.'
European Commissioner for Justice Mr Didier Reynders stated: 'It is a great pleasure to be present at Eurojust today after the cancellations due to the pandemic. I am so impressed Eurojust has gone even further by responding with such efficiency in the context of the war in Ukraine. Eurojust helped set up a joint investigation team (JIT) in March with Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine – and today we welcome Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia – to support evidence gathering, exchange and transmission. This tool, which Eurojust is really in charge of, is proving its real worth today in a crisis. I am proud to help Eurojust excel, to become a real hub for judicial cooperation and for the investigation of war crimes.'
European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ms Ylva Johansson pointed out: 'The illegal invasion of Ukraine by Putin’s forces has been both brutal and criminal. There are compelling indicators that atrocities have been committed. We need to ensure that evidence is gathered, preserved and eventually produced. Our joint European Commission visit to Eurojust and Europol is therefore strategically important. Europol and law enforcement officers will play a big investigative role in bringing any perpetrators of core international crimes in Ukraine, to justice.'
The amendment of the Eurojust Regulation would provide the Agency with the possibility to collect, analyse and preserve evidence related to core international crimes and process data such as videos, audio recordings and satellite images. It would also enable such evidence to be shared with national and international authorities, including the International Criminal Court (ICC). Last month, the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC became a participant in the JIT on core international crimes committed in Ukraine.
During the visit, both Commissioners were also given an introduction to the operational work of Eurojust and received an elaborate explanation of how a coordination meeting at the Agency is organised. Furthermore, they received a presentation on the setting up and functioning of JITs and the role Eurojust plays in supporting them.