Tag Archive: Criminal justice reform

The European Union’s New Criminal Policy Against Fraud

The Treaty of Lisbon has established a new tool to protect the financial interests of the European Union. Article 86 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states

In order to combat crimes affecting the financial interests of the Union, the Council, by means of regulations adopted in accordance with a special legislative procedure, may establish a European Public Prosecutor’s Office from Eurojust…

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office shall be responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment, where appropriate in liaison with Europol, the perpetrators of, and accomplices in, offences against the Union’s financial interests…It shall exercise the functions of prosecutor in the competent courts of the Member States in relation to such offences.

On July 17th, 2013, the European Commission launched a proposal to improve the protection of the European Union’s financial interests. The proposal sets out specific objectives that the European Union would like to achieve through the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO). One of the objectives is to establish a system that will investigate and prosecute offenses against the financial interests  of the European Union. The  drafters of the proposal also believe that it  will lead to an increase in the number of prosecutions which will lead to more convictions and dependable avenues to recover Union funds through the EPPO for fraud against the EU.

The EPPO will be independent and will work with each Member State’s law enforcement and European law enforcement to ensure an efficient way to deter EU fraud. The body was created because currently only national authorities can investigate any allegations of EU fraud of financial interests which caused the enforcement of the laws to end at the border of each state. Before the creation of the EPPO the entities which had the authority to investigate fraud did not have the ability to conduct criminal investigations. The treaty created the EPPO to authorize criminal convictions against fraud beyond national borders.

The EPPO is going to be led by the European Public Prosecutor (EPP) and will also consist of at least one European Delegated Prosecutor (EDP) for each member state. The types of crimes that will be under the jurisdiction of the EPPO include fraud, corruption, money laundering, and misappropriation. Other crimes that are “inextricably linked” with those crimes may be under the discretion of the EPPO.

It is estimated that 500 million euro  ($600 million) of the EU budget is lost to fraud every year and the EPPO is expected to effectively deal with this problem.

The Criminalization of Sex Work: Are Sex Workers Also Sex Offenders?

In New Orleans,  prostitutes (also known as sex workers, a term that encompasses various forms of sexual favors or acts traded for money, shelter, or other resources/necessities) are not just being charged by the District Attorney’s office with simple solicitation (a misdemeanor) but crimes against nature. Crimes against Nature is a felony charge that provides up to five years in prison, in addition the legislature mandates that the accused register as a sex offender. The legislative intent was to prosecute child molesters, but it is used to prosecute primarily street-based sex workers, a population already destitute and struggling to survive in a city with few public health and anti-poverty resources. The local Police Department and District Attorney’s office have interpreted the statutory phrase “unnatural copulation” to mean anal or oral sex.

What is really interesting is that the arresting officer has the discretion to charge either simple solicitation or crimes against nature and it unclear whether the officers have a protocol for which to charge. One community organization that advocates for the health and wellness needs of under-served women, Women with a Vision, sees these arbitrary prosecutions as part of an overall scheme to prosecute non-violent crimes at a greater intensity than violent crimes, which they see as symptomatic of the criminalization of poverty. Another community organization that advocates for formerly incarcerated persons alleges that only five percent of people held in Orleans Parish Prison are there for violent crimes, but a majority are in there for non-violent offenses, like traffic or municipal violations.

Many lawyers and the media, print and online,  have found out what is happening in New Orleans and are doing all they can to change the interpretation of this statute, as well as support community organizations trying to change its enforcement and the lives of those most affected by it. Yet, despite of these ongoing efforts, people are still prosecuted under the crimes against nature statute. Hopefully, this will make us think twice when we read about a “Sex Offender” in our neighborhood.

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