Friday, February 18, 2005

Italians block European arrest warrant

While Britain engages in its never-ending and never-changing fight about what was and what was not meant by a particular set of weasel-words that appeared to give the government and opt-out but actually did not, the Italian parliament has cheerfully blocked the Bill that was going to put the European arrest warrant into Italian law.

Italy is the last country to hold out against the European arrest warrant that lists 32 different crimes, including the hard-to-define one of xenophobia, that will do away what is often described as the cumbersome system of extradition.

Well, of course, it depends on how you look at it. Cumbersomeness may be a nuisance or it may be quite useful. Anyone who cherishes the idea of freedom has to oppose the very idea of an "efficient government", whatever that may be. Actually, the most oppressive governments remain inefficient, as they have to waste so much time, money and energy on the structure of oppression.

Extradition treaties with all the paraphernalia of double jeopardy and having to go through various courts and having to prove grounds for the request seem like an extremely bad idea. Until you look at the opposite: people being whisked off to other countries on dubious grounds, accused of crimes that may or may not be acknowledged as crimes in their own country.

It says something about the British government that this was one of the first countries to sign up to the European arrest warrant and it says something about the British media that the whole problem was forgotten in no time at all.

But the Italians are holding out. A combination of left-wing opposition to the Bill and Northern League opposition to the warrant as a whole voted it down, disliking Article 4 that diminishes if not completely destroys the role of the national Justice Minister.

There have been some exchanges between the unexpected allies, each accusing the other of hypocrisy and bad attitude but the fact remains that discussion of the Bill will have to be resumed next week.

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