The EJN was set up in June 1998 by the Council of the European Union to assist judicial practitioners in combating cross-border crime. Its main purpose is to facilitate requests for practical and bilateral direct cooperation between judicial authorities, prosecutors and Ministries of Justice.
The EJN specialises in direct one-to-one contact to resolve legal issues as well as undertaking preparatory work for judicial cooperation. The role of the EJN can be seen as complementary to Eurojust’s and allows national authorities to receive adequate support from either body depending on the specifics of their case. For this reason, the EJN Secretariat is hosted at Eurojust in The Hague.
EJN assistance can, for instance, concern requests on the status of investigations and which authorities are involved or how to establish contacts in other countries. Furthermore, the EJN can assist judges and prosecutors in establishing who is competent to execute requests for European Investigation Orders (EIOs), European Arrest Warrants (EAWs), Freezing Certificates (FC) or Mutual Legal Assistance (MLAs).
This important support enables direct communication between judges and prosecution services, without having to open a case via National Desks or Liaison Prosecutors at Eurojust. This allows them to focus on longer-term and large-scale criminal justice and multilateral cooperation. EJN operates via a network of approximately 450 Contact Points in EU Member States and beyond.
The EJN Contact Points are coordinated via National Correspondents, and its work is supported by a Secretariat and a rotating Presidency Board, which follows the rotation scheme of the Council of the European Union. During the past 10 years, the Contact Points have reported more than 90 000 cases.
The EJN also delivers important contributions to the drafting and implementation of EU legal instruments such as the e-Evidene package. Its website, maintained by the EJN Secretariat, offers practical guidance via its Judicial Atlas of Contact Points and Competent Authorities. The Compendium offers access to forms for EAWs and MLAs in all 24 official languages of the EU, via e-tools designed by practitioners to assist authorities in filling, drafting and sending the requests.
The Judicial Atlas allows authorities to identify the authority that is competent to receive the request depending on the type of assistance, nature of crime and other criteria, determined by the national legislation of the Member States. The majority of the tools and information on the EJN website is publicly available, and is widely used throughout the EU and beyond with visits from more than 100 countries.
Mr Hugh Dockry became Secretary to the EJN in January this year, succeeding Mr Ola Löfgren. He has extensive experience gained from 14 years spent in the Chief State Sollicitor’s Office of Ireland, with ten of those years working on cooperation in judicial matters. He was, in particular, responsible for the execution of incoming EAWs and extradition requests. He later worked in the Criminal Justice Legislation Division of the Department of Justice, drafting and implementing judicial cooperation instruments.
In 2020, he was seconded as a national expert to the Directorate General for Justice of the European Commission, with responsibility for judicial cooperation instruments, with particular responsibility for EAWs, and detention conditions. Prior to his post at the EJN, Mr Dockry was seconded national expert for Ireland at the Justice and Home Affairs directorate of the Legal Service of the European Commission.