95. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Justice further to Parliamentary Question No. 717 of 24 February 2021, the progress that has been made in relation to this matter; when proposals to deal with this issue will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48524/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy James Browne): The Deputy will wish to note that I introduced the Criminal Justice (Mutual Recognition of Custodial Sentences) Bill 2021 on 16 September 2021.
The purpose of this Bill is to implement EU framework decision 2008/909/JHA on the mutual recognition of judgments in criminal matters imposing custodial sentences and other measures involving deprivation of liberty.
The implementation of this framework decision will facilitate the transfer of prisoners between EU member states where that transfer would enhance the person’s social rehabilitation. Prisoner transfers are, at present, operated under the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Act 1995, which implements the 1983 Council of Europe convention. The framework decision supersedes the convention in respect of transfers within the EU and makes several important changes to how transfers operate.
As a consequence of Brexit, the framework decision does not apply to transfers to and from the United Kingdom, which will continue to be governed by the convention and the 1995 Act. However, as the Deputy will be aware, transfers under the 1995 Act have been subject to legal challenge in recent years. Differences in sentencing structures between states have proved difficult and often impossible to reconcile. This has precluded the completion of many transfers, particularly between Ireland and the UK. While the issues that have arisen are addressed for the new regime in the Bill before the House, the 1995 Act will also require amendment. It is my intention to introduce the necessary amendments to that legislation by way of Committee Stage amendments to this Bill.
It is my aim for this Bill to be enacted by the end of 2021.