The VR-DigiJust project contributes to the effective and coherent application of specific EU cooperation instruments at regional level through a decentralized cross-border and cross-professional training strategy in the framework of the Council Conclusions 6926/21.
At the center of VR-DigiJust is the impact of the new technologies firstly on the work of regional prosecutor offices and their staff, judges, lawyers, and bailiffs, when they are confronted with large cascade investigations, such as ‘Enchrochat’, Sky ECC, or the recent Slovak-UK modern slavery case.
The project aims to have:
- Relevance in relation to judicial cooperation: VR-DigiJust focuses on a better and more coherent use of the following EU cooperation tools considered as a priority in the call: Council Regulation (EU) 2018/1805; CouncilFramework Decision 2002/584/JHA (EAW); Directive 2014/41/EU (EIO); Council Regulation (EU) 2017/1939 (EPPO); Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (GDPR); Directive (EU) 2016/680 (Police Directive), as well as all FD on alternative measures to prison (947/909/829) in the framework of the case law of the European Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
- Relevance in relation to fundamental rights: The integration of different EU judicial tools within complex transnational investigations based on e-evidence and digital data gathering poses several legal and doctrinal questions, with a view to the developing jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for what concerns the applicable concept of ‘judicial authority’, ‘fishing expeditions’, and data protection and privacy in the digital era.
- Relevance of the target groups: From regional to European dimensions: VR-DigiJust builds capacity among the target groups identified in the Council Conclusions 6926/21 “such as lawyers, bailiffs, court staff” (pg.7), with a regional focus, including regional prosecutor offices, local tribunals of preliminary, first and second instance towards a harmonised understanding of which mutual recognition instruments should be used, by which judiciary body (ordinary, district prosecutors, judges, courts), when (level of the proceeding, judges of preliminary investigation, probatory test or different trial stages) and under which jurisdiction (depending from the type of crime, age of the suspects, countries involved, applicable convention and type of activity) during complex transnational judiciary activities involving the collection and exchange of digital data and evidences for poly-crime. VR-DigiJust recognizes the importance of a regional and decentralized approach as a means to have an EU impact through capacity building.
- Relevance for the modernization of the EU justice training: Responding especially to the Council Conclusions “Boosting Training of JudicialProfessionals”, VR-DigiJust strives to reduce disparity in justice professional training across MSs through combined design and implementation; invest in the digitalisation of training through the B-learning HERMES training platform combined with advanced Virtual Reality training; and carefully evaluating the effects of training and different training tools through the Kirkpatrick approach. In this way, the project uses new technologies to offer “Varied, accessible training tools and formats[…], to adapt to learners’ availability and diversity.”
Moreover, in consideration of the 2020 EIGE’s data on gender equality and the assessed existing gender-based disparities in the justice system, VR-DigiJust research and legislative activities are framed within a specific impact assessment strategy aimed at empowering women and fostering a culture of gender equality and non-discriminatory justice within national and European prosecutors and judges, at all levels. Action taken to achieve this will be included in the research, training, and dissemination activities, inter alia through disaggregated data collection, flexibility of, and active recruitment of females for training, and the targeting of female practitioner associations and events through dissemination.