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NEWS

UK court rejects disproportionate European Arrest Warrant to Poland

admin - July 23, 2018 - European Arrest Warrant

The following post was shared with us by Malcolm Hawkes, barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, London, UK. This post originally appeared here.

In case Strzepa v Poland, the English High Court has recently overturned the decision of the Westminster Magistrates Court to extradite a man to Poland to complete his prison sentence and to stand trial on a separate allegation on grounds that the surrender would violate his right to private and family life.

The appellant was originally sentenced to 2 years imprisonment for drugs offences committed between 2006 and 2007 and had served 18 months of that sentence. In 2010, he was recalled to prison for breaching the terms of his release but fled to the UK as a fugitive. The Polish authorities also wished to prosecute him for a separate allegation of theft: he was accused of stealing a bag belonging to an agricultural centre valued at £250, but there was no evidence he was aware of that allegation.

The Polish courts issued a domestic arrest warrant for the prison recall within a year, but did not issue a warrant in respect of the theft matter for over 7 years. There was no explanation for this delay. Meanwhile, the appellant had travelled to and from Poland from the UK on multiple occasions over the years without any consequence.

Ten years on from the accusations, the appellant had turned his life around in the UK, ceased offending and had established a productive life. He had served over ¾ of his original sentence and repaid the full value of the goods allegedly stolen. Given this circumstance, the English judge found that extradition to Poland in 2018 for low-level offending committed years before would be a disproportionate interference with the appellant’s right to private and family life.

This is just one recent example of how the European Arrest Warrant is being issued for trivial offences, and causing a disproportionate impact on the life of people, who get transferred across borders, kilometres away from their new life and their loved ones.

At Fair Trials, we have long been campaigning for a reform of the European Arrest Warrant to include strong human rights safeguards and avoid its abuse. In 2016, we launched a research project on the treatment of people after surrender, where we found that the EAW continues to be used for petty crimes, often years after these were committed, and it continues to send people kilometres away from their families, in prisons that do not comply with basic detention standards. 

You can read the full report here

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on +44 (0) 20 7822 2370 or +32 (0) 2 360 04 71.

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