State Secretary Martinović attends the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Luxembourg

State Secretary at the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration Juro Martinović participated in the meeting of justice ministers within the JHA Council on 9 June. 

The Council adopted general approaches on five proposed legislative instruments:

Directive against strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) – court proceedings against persons who engage in public participation. Such court proceedings are not initiated for the purpose of access to justice, but rather to silence public debate, usually through harassment and intimidation. The compromise text adequately addresses all the key issues raised during the debate and will achieve the objectives of this Proposal, protecting journalists and human rights defenders in their public action while ensuring and respecting the principle of the right of access to court.

Directive amending Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims – This targeted revision of Directive 2011/36/EU on combating trafficking in human beings aims to address a number of challenges that have arisen since 2011. The aim is to extend the list of forms of exploitation explicitly mentioned in the Anti-Trafficking Directive to include forced marriages and illegal adoption. Furthermore, it seeks to replace the optional sanctions regime for legal persons with two different mandatory regimes. It also seeks to ensure that all Member States establish by laws, regulations or administrative provisions a national referral mechanism to further harmonise their structures and practices with regard to the referral of victims to appropriate assistance and support systems.

Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence – The aim of this proposal is to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence in order to ensure a high level of security and the full enjoyment of fundamental rights within the European Union, including the right to equal treatment and non-discrimination between women and men. The proposal criminalises certain forms of violence, ensures the effective prosecution of such crimes and contributes to the eradication of violence against women and domestic violence and better support and protection of victims.

Directive on the definition of criminal offences and penalties for the violation of Union restrictive measures – Restrictive measures are an essential tool to promote the objectives of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), as set out in Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). The objective of this proposal is to harmonise the definitions of criminal offences related to the violation of Union restrictive measures, to ensure effective, dissuasive and proportionate types and levels of penalties, to encourage cross-border investigations and prosecutions and to improve the operational effectiveness of national enforcement chains.

Directive on asset recovery and confiscation – The Proposal for a Directive on asset recovery and confiscation facilitates confiscation of assets in criminal matters and strengthens the capabilities of competent authorities to identify, freeze and manage assets, to cover all relevant criminal activities carried out by organised criminal groups, thus enabling confiscation for all relevant assets.

As regards non-legislative activities, the Annual Report for the activities of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in 2022 was presented.

There was an exchange of views on the Russian aggression against Ukraine i.e. on investigation and prosecution in the context of a violation of Union restrictive measures. Ministers were invited to answer questions about the work of the competent authorities in detecting, investigating and prosecuting violations of restrictive measures against Russia (or Belarus) imposed due to its aggression against Ukraine, and on best practices or specific challenges that they could share.

They also exchanged views on judicial aspects of the fight against organised crime, with a focus on effective investigations and fundamental rights. A balance between the rights of the accused and the effective investigation and prosecution of criminal offences was discussed.

The presidency of the Council issued presidency conclusions on the security of LGBTI persons in the European Union. They add value to the already adopted 2020 LGBTI Equality Strategy, and their adoption will be another step forward towards raising awareness of the need to build a more tolerant society that embraces diversity and the right of choice.

The Council also presented the state of play of the EU’s accession to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.