I know things are bad in this country – I know courts have been closed (even without containing RAAC), I know legal aid has been cut, I know prisons are overcrowded (while the government calls for more and harsher sentences) – but this still doesn’t sit very well with me.
A court in Karlsruhe decides against extradition of Albanian man ‘in view of the state of the British prison system’.
A German court has refused to extradite to the UK a man accused of drug trafficking because of concerns about prison conditions in Britain, in what is thought to be the first case of its kind.
This was the Oberlandesgericht.
Karlsruhe higher regional court in south-west Germany made its decision earlier this year, and it has only recently been made public.
A translation of the court report said: “The court decided that the extradition of the Albanian to Britain was ‘currently inadmissible’. Without British guarantees, extradition is not possible in view of the state of the British prison system. There are no legal remedies against this.”
The man was arrested by German police and held in extradition custody.
His defence lawyer, Jan-Carl Janssen had studied in Glasgow and had written a thesis that looked at UK prison conditions.
In court, Janssen cited his research about chronic overcrowding, staff shortages and violence among inmates in British prisons. On the back of this evidence, the German court sought reassurances on two occasions from the UK authorities about prison conditions there.
The court said guarantees from the UK of compliance with minimum standards in accordance with the European convention on human rights were required. In addition, the court asked the British authorities to specify which prisons the Albanian man was going to be detained in and what his conditions of detention would be in those prisons.
A police station in Manchester replied to the court’s first request on the final day of the deadline for a response, saying 20,000 extra prison places were being built to deal with the problem of overcrowding. The second request for reassurance about UK prison conditions received no response from the UK.
…Since the UK is no longer a member of the EU, the rules of the European arrest warrant no longer apply.
It does look as though similar decisions have been made in Ireland and the Netherlands. It does sound rather weak to promise that the UK is building prisons for 20,000 more people.
From the Frankfurter Rundschau:
In dem neueren Fall hatte der Verdächtige einen Anwalt, der so etwas wie ein Experte für den Zustand der britischen Gefängnisse war. Jan-Carl Janssen schrieb seine Dissertation über das Strafvollzugssystem in England, Wales und Schottland und führte vor Gericht seine Untersuchungen zu Themen wie chronische Überbelegung, Personalmangel und Gewalt unter Insassen an. Er sagte auch, dass einige Zellen zu klein, zu dunkel und schlecht belüftet sind.
That’s a one-year LL.M. dissertation btw.
LATER NOTE: A report on this case on Udo Vetter’s blog, with four comments (glad the UK is out of the EU, especially because the right of silence has been weakened). Not yet references to how a prisoner escaped from Wandsworth last week. Udo gives the file number of the German case: 301 OAus 1/23