Minister of Justice and Public Administration Ivan Malenica participated in the meeting of the Council of Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA Council) in Brussels on Friday 9 December.
The main topics of the ministerial meeting in the formation of justice ministers were fight against cybercrime, electronic evidence, digitalisation of the judiciary, the so-called anti-SLAPP directive, environmental crime directive and fight against antisemitism.
Participants of the meeting were informed of the latest results of negotiations between the Council of the EU and the European Parliament on the e-evidence legislative proposals (for a Regulation on European Production and Preservation Orders for electronic evidence in criminal matters and a Directive on the appointment of legal representatives for the purpose of gathering evidence in criminal proceedings).
The draft directive on asset recovery and confiscation was also discussed. The proposed Directive lays down minimum rules on the monitoring and identification, freezing, confiscation and management of the proceeds of crime. It was discussed whether the right to a fair trial and to an effective remedy as included in the proposal provide sufficient protection to all persons affected by the measures under the proposed Directive and assessed whether to extend the right of defence to persons who are not those being charged with the criminal offence but are affected by the measures.
The draft directive against strategic lawsuits against public participation ("EU anti-SLAPP directive") was also discussed. These are unsubstantiated or exaggerated court proceedings usually brought by powerful individuals, lobbies, corporations and government bodies against parties expressing criticism or conveying messages on matters of public interest that are unpleasant to the plaintiffs.
A general approach was adopted for the proposed Directive on the protection of the environment through criminal law and the proposed Regulation on the digitalisation of judicial cooperation and access to justice with an accompanying proposal for a Directive on the digitalisation of judicial cooperation, which are aimed at improving the effectiveness and speed of judicial proceedings and facilitating access to justice by digitalising existing communication channels .
Croatia holds that the future application of these legislative acts will contribute significantly both to speeding up proceedings and to significantly reducing costs, as well as to modernising and improving the effectiveness of European justice systems as a whole.
Within non-legislative deliberations, ministers exchanged views regarding the suppression of antisemitism. Croatia will take over the Presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in March 2023, until March 2024. The IHRA presidency is a confirmation of Croatia's commitment to fighting antisemitism and preserving the memory of the Holocaust victims.
The Council adopted conclusions on the fight against impunity regarding crimes committed in connection with Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Croatia supported the adoption of the Council Conclusions, which are an expression of continued support for Ukraine by the Member States of the European Union.
The Ministers adopted Conclusions on enhancing the capacities of the European Judicial Cybercrime Network (EJCN) . The European Judicial Cybercrime Network has proved to be an important and valuable factor in the Union's efforts to combat cybercrime, and Croatia particularly welcomes the establishment of the Network Secretariat, as we believe that the full potential of the Network cannot be realised as long as it does not have its own organisation and acts largely on an ad hoc basis.
In addition, accession of the European Union to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) was discussed. Croatia supports the completion of the accession negotiations and remains fully committed to the success of the entire process of creating a single European legal space in terms of the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Presidency briefed ministers on the outcome of the EU-Western Balkans ministerial forum in the area of justice and home affairs, the next EU-US ministerial meeting in the area of justice and home affairs, the held conference on whistleblowing and workshop on the digitalisation of justice. The Commission presented a recommendation on procedural rights of suspects and accused persons subject to pre-trial detention and on material detention conditions and its annual report on the application of the EU fundamental rights charter. and the Swedish delegation presented the work programme of its upcoming presidency of the Council.