Monday

10th Aug 2020

Vatican to join EU judicial co-operation group

  • Some 18 million pilgrims and tourists visit St. Peter's Basilica each year (Photo: EUobserver)

The Vatican is considering whether to join Eurojust, EU's judicial co-operation group against serious cross-border crime, the city's chief prosecutor Nicola Picardi has said.

Mr Picardi proposed the Eurojust membership as he outlined the state of law and order in the tribunals of the Vatican during a ceremony to start the city-state's judicial year, AP reports.

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The increased threat of international terrorism requires new forms of co-operation among countries, he explained.

In October, the Vatican joined Interpol, the world's largest police co-operation organisation. The city-state's gendarmes have been attending meetings of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe since 2006, he added.

Joining Eurojust would be another "important step" in the fight against terrorism, both at home and abroad, Mr Picardi argued.

The Hague-based Eurojust was established in 2002 and includes senior investigators and prosecutors from each EU member state. In 2007, the European Commission proposed legislation for increasing the powers of Eurojust and granting member states automatic access to national databases, terrorist cases, criminal, DNA and prison records.

Eurojust is seen as a preliminary form of any future European Public Prosecutor's office, the creation of which is provided for under the Lisbon Treaty.

No law for drug dealing

In another proposal, Mr Picardi said the Vatican needed a specific law to tackle drug dealing. An individual was brought before the Vatican tribunal in 2008 on charges of drug possession and sale, and there was no law on the books to deal with it, he said.

Picardi said he didn't want the loophole to turn the city-state into a "zona franca for the sale and possession of drugs."

He offered no details on the case in question.

Only 492 people live in Vatican city, but each year, 18 million pilgrims and tourists visit the famous St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, with the most common crime being petty theft.

The assassination attempt in 1981 against Pope John Paul II and the attacks of 11 September 2001 prompted an increase in security measures, with visitors now required to pass through metal detectors to enter the basilica and attend audiences with the pope.

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