143. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice when amendments to the Criminal Justice (Mutual Recognition of Custodial Sentences) Bill 2021 dealing with prisoner transfer to and from the UK will be published; the reason for the delay given that the vast majority of prisoner transfers in the past took place to and from that jurisdiction; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53618/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): As the Deputy will be aware, the purpose of the Criminal Justice (Mutual Recognition of Custodial Sentences) Bill 2021 is to implement the provisions of EU Council Framework Decision 2008/909/JHA on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to judgments in criminal matters imposing custodial sentences or measures involving deprivation of liberty for the purpose of their enforcement in the EU.
As the Deputy will be aware, significant issues have arisen in respect of inward transfers, most notably from the United Kingdom. While the Bill will address these issues for EU transfers, it does not, as it stands, alter the position for other Convention states. Critically, after Brexit, UK transfers do not fall under the Framework Decision and will continue to take place under the Convention and existing 1995 Act.
Work is continuing on amendments to the Convention regime, and it is the intention to seek Government approval to progress these necessary changes via amendments to the current Bill.
The issues involved are particularly complex given the wide range of possible sentencing structures that may be involved, and the amended regime must be suitable to deal not only with transfers from the UK, but also from other Convention states.
The outline of the proposed amendments has been drafted and legal advice is currently pending to ensure that they are robust.
On receipt of this advice I hope to be in a position to quickly seek Government approval to introduce them.