EU Arrest Warrants Implicate Rights Probe, Magistrate Says

(CN) – Clarifying rules on the execution of European arrest warrants, a magistrate said Thursday that courts must make specific inquiries into whether the person being extradited is at risk of justice abuses.

The challenge before the court in Luxembourg stems from three European arrest warrants that Polish courts issued for a Polish national on drug-trafficking charges.

Identified in the court record only as LM, the suspect was arrested in Ireland but did not consent to extradition, saying that Poland would not give him a fair trial.

Ireland’s High Court in turn asked the European Court of Justice to advise on how it should handle such a claim, in light of 2016 precedent from the cases involving Pal Aranyosi and Robert Caldararu.

Advocate General Evgeni Tanchev recommended Thursday that, regardless of any investigation by the European Council, it is for the executing judicial authority to find whether the Polish system of justice carries a real risk of breach of the right to a fair trial.

Whereas the council’s assessment will probe a risk of breach of the rule of law, the judicial authority must look into a risk of breach of the right to a fair trial.

“Then, the executing judicial authority must ascertain that there are substantial grounds for believing that the individual concerned by the European arrest warrant will be exposed to the risk established on the basis of the material referred to in the preceding point,” Tanchev wrote. “Indeed, ‘the mere existence of … deficiencies, which may be systemic or generalized, or which may affect certain groups of people, or which may affect certain places of detention, … does not necessarily imply that, in a specific case, the individual concerned will be subject to inhuman or degrading treatment in the event that he is surrendered.’”

If such findings are made with regard to LM, the Irish court must postpone execution of the arrest warrants.

The recommendation of an advocate general is not binding on the Court of Justice, which will now begin its own deliberations in the case.

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