Ireland refuses extradition of Polish criminal
In February, the Supreme Court in Ireland raised some eyebrows when it refused to extradite a man wanted in the UK for tax fraud. The case was instead referred to the European Court of Justice.
The Irish Supreme Court noted that the sentence that had been imposed meant that the requested person would still be in custody when the UK leaves the EU in March 2019. As a result, it was unclear what legal regime would apply to him after that time.
Now, an Irish Court has refused to extradite a Polish man, wanted on drugs charges. His case has also been referred to the ECJ, for them to consider the impact of the significant changes to the Polish legal system. Laws passed at the end of last year gave the Government significant control of the judiciary, allowing ministers to appoint Judges and effectively removing judicial independence.
A fundamental part of the European Arrest Warrant system is the mutual trust and confidence placed in other countries legal systems. In its simplest terms, countries that are part of the EAW scheme are trusted to have appropriate systems in place, and whilst they may be different to those in another country, they cannot be called into question by the extraditing country.
The changes to the Polish judicial system have led to the European Commission referring Poland to the European Court of Justice. When the Commission is calling into question the integrity of a country’s judicial system, it is not difficult to see why there are concerns about the continued reliance on the principle of mutual recognition.
As in the earlier case, the Irish Court has simply referred the matter to the ECJ for a decision. It has not discharged the EAW, and the practical effect in Ireland is likely to be that all extradition requests to Poland are put on hold, pending the decision of the ECJ.
Whether or not the UK Courts adopt the same approach remains to be seen. Whilst the future status of the ECJ in the UK post-Brexit remains unclear, it would be ironic if the UK Courts chose to defer to the ECJ.
If you require help with an extradition case, please contact John Howey on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7388 1658