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Justice ministers on artificial intelligence and child-friendly justice

Met dank overgenomen van Sloveens voorzitterschap Europese Unie 2e helft 2021, gepubliceerd op donderdag 15 juli 2021, 9:00.

Minister of Justice Marjan Dikaučič highlighted the importance of balance between human rights and the potentials of modern technology in terms of the protection of an individual's rights.

At an informal meeting at Brdo pri Kranju, justice ministers today discussed the justice-related aspects of artificial intelligence, child-friendly justice and issues related to digital estates.

The first minutes of the meeting were dedicated to Dutch journalist Peter R de Vries, who died yesterday. Justice Minister Dikaučič condemned this and all similar attacks on journalists in the strongest terms, as free and independent media are the foundation of democratic society and the rule of law.

The meeting started in line with the Slovenian Presidency priority on justice, which is the protection of fundamental rights in light of the challenges posed by new technologies and internet use. The discussion was led by Minister of Justice Marjan Dikaučič, as the chair of the Justice Council. The Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), Michael O’Flaherty, and European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders also took part in the discussion.

Judicial aspects of the Artificial Intelligence Act

The ministers and the Director of FRA exchanged opinions on the proposal for the Artificial Intelligence Act, which will regulate the development and use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the EU. During the German Presidency, the Council of the EU highlighted the expectation that the proposal would not only take into the benefits but also the risks and requirements specific to justice in order to ensure a responsible, public-interest-oriented and human-centric development and use of AI applications in the justice sector. The ministers also examined how the proposal ensures the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms in the development and use of AI tools. They focused mainly on the proposal's solutions for processing biometric data, especially in terms of how they ensure the protection of the right to privacy and data protection.

The prevailing opinion in the discussion was that algorithms must not replace judges under any circumstances. When it came to systems for remote biometric identification in publicly accessible spaces for the purposes of criminal prosecution, the ministers were of the opinion that these are invasive measures that encroach on fundamental rights, in particular the right to privacy.

"The key issue is establishing the balance between human rights and the possibilities of modern technology. In a democracy, not everything that is technologically possible is also legally admissible when we take into account the protection of an individual's rights."

Marjan Dikaučič Minister of Justice

Marjan Dikaučič Minister of Justice

Child-friendly justice

Children become involved in the working of judicial systems in different ways, so the ministers devoted special attention to the protection of children and their rights in judicial proceedings. During the discussion, the ministers stressed in particular the importance of appropriate treatment of minor perpetrators of criminal offences, who, in addition to the respect of legal norms, must be guaranteed measures and services that facilitate reintegration in the society and prevent revictimisation. Children must also be protected in civil proceedings, in particular in cross-border family disputes and kidnappings. The speed of court proceedings is particularly important in this regard.

Many countries are already developing and introducing multidisciplinary and interinstitutional models known as "children's houses" based on the Scandinavian Barnahus concept, which focuses on the need to provide comprehensive and ongoing support to children during and after the completion of court proceedings. Slovenia is also implementing this kind of model within a joint EU and Council of Europe project.

Dikaučič: "I am convinced that by expanding this concept, it is possible to take a big step towards the higher standards of child-friendly justice."

Digital inheritance

We can no longer imagine a life without digital media. We are entangled in the digital environment in which we connect and cooperate with others, create, save documents, listen to music, use cryptocurrencies or build digital assets.

Dikaučič: "Are the contractual provisions of providers still sufficient when a digital media user dies leaving behind a digital inheritance?"

During a working lunch, the ministers discussed some of the challenges that arise when determining the content of and access to digital inheritance (e.g. with regard to the use of pseudonyms, or the cross-border recognition and enforcement of court decisions) and steps the EU should take to effectively address these challenges. They agreed that in-depth analyses at all levels could be a possible step forward when addressing the issues that need to be resolved in order to ensure legally safe digital inheritance for EU citizens.


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