This report is the third joint investigation team (JIT) evaluation report published by the JITs Network since 2014. It contains two chapters.
Chapter 1 provides a non-exhaustive overview of findings from 99 evaluation forms completed by JIT practitioners between November 2017 and November 2019.
Chapter 2 specifically addresses Eurojust’s experience in JITs with third States.
The executive summary provides an overview of the main practical findings of this report in terms of lessons learned and best practices identified.
Findings from the evaluation of joint investigation teams
(a) Setting-up of a joint investigation teamSpecific challenges identified:
- lack of ongoing investigations in the countries of relevance;•identification of relevant JIT partners when the case presents connections between more than two countries;
- feasibility and willingness to participate in a JIT;
- reluctance to join a multilateral JIT involving States with no direct links between their respective investigations;
- diverging operational priorities / different levels of investigations in involved countries;
- identification of relevant JIT partners when several criminal proceedings are ongoing at national level without a possibility of being merged;
- setting-up of a JIT without delay in cases when the decision to set up a JIT is made close to the time when actions are expected to be carried out.
- familiarity with a JIT tool: previous experience among States or national authorities to be involved in the JIT;
- agreement on a simplified procedure to deal with changes of JIT members;
- facilitation role of JIT national experts (coordinators) in the setting-up process;
- use of a common working language for the discussion of the draft JIT agreement;
- acceptance of a JIT agreement in English in national proceedings (no translation required);
- discussion at the time of the setting- up of a JIT of how an operational analysis is going to be done and by whom (Europol or national authorities);
- early clarification of legal and practical issues already in pre-JIT phase; involvement of Eurojust to provide assistance and advice.
(b) Operational phase
Specific challenges identified:
- language issues, in particular lack of time and translators in cases with large amounts of material to be translated or less common languages;
- coordination of a response to mutual legal assistance (MLA) / European Investigation Order (EIO) requests received by one party to a JIT requesting to share evidence collected within the JIT;
- different mandatory deadlines for the investigations in JIT parties that might interfere with operations;
- refusal of the execution of the European Arrest Warrants due to prison conditions;
- differences in legal requirements regarding hearings of victims and witnesses.
- role of liaison officers from one JIT State posted in the other JIT State: daily communication and deeper understanding of specifics of the legal system as well as cultural and social background;
- use of common/shared investigative methodS and tools between law enforcement agencies of States involved;
- visibility of the teamwork to the arrested suspects;
- involvement of specific experts (national trafficking in human beings coordinator, Interpol, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) beneficial to the outcome of the case;
- implementation of the joint strategy regarding support/protection of victims of trafficking (multidisciplinary approach, including NGOs, ministries of justice);
- added value of joint surveillance and real-time analysis of intercepts in a drug-trafficking case in a border area;
- continuous engagement in discussion to clarify the legal systems and requirements in different countries;
- possibility of using the same interpreter/translator throughout the JIT activities (translation of wiretaps, interpretation during the meetings) to allow better overview of the case and contribute to the efficiency of cooperation;
- good protocolling of the information and evidence exchanged (using the JIT Log).
(c) Prosecution phase
- continued cooperation during the prosecution phase – reference in LORs to the closed JIT;
- continued cooperation in a JIT to tackle practical/legal/operational issues during the prosecution phase.