The shaky future of the European Arrest Warrant in Britain! “Brexit” and extraditions. Will something change?
The changes taking place in British law will not affect the immigrants who are currently living in the UK. Such information was published on the UK government website. However, the question is, what will happen to people who are threatened with extradition? Are there any known or anticipated changes which could potentially affect their situation?
During the last two to three years, the number of requests for the extradition of convicted Poles who have come to Britain to look for shelter has significantly risen. According to the British government, in the long term perspective, the amount of extradited Polish people – not only those who have problems with law – may rise. In 2011 there were 302 cases, in 2013 – 526 and in 2015 this rose to 951. Polish people are now more frequently turned down at the border.
“Since Poland has entered the European Union, thousands have settled in the United Kingdom. Some are consciously looking for shelter against the Polish justice system. Others – don’t realise that there is an ongoing investigation against them, often concerning frivolous or long forgotten cases. In both cases, they could be threatened with extradition” – explains Anna Matelska, solicitor from AM International Solicitors in London.
In connection with the participation of Poland in the European Union, bringing convicts with a court judgement to prison, or suspects, does not currently pose a major problem if they are residing in the UK, since the extradition proceedings are regulated in detail in various international agreements and the code of criminal proceedings.
A simplified form of extradition exists between EU countries – in the form of a European Arrest Warrant (EAW). It is a court ruling issued by the participating EU country, with the aim of arresting and transferring a person of which concerns the EAW by another EU country. It is made in order to conduct criminal proceedings or enforcement of a sentence of imprisonment or an alternative measure involving deprivation of liberty. It allows a person suspected or convicted of committing a crime to be arrested (or if they have already been sentenced) and extradited to their country, where one will be brought before the court or transferred to carry out the sentence ruled before. The court of the country in which the person resides decides if they will be extradited.
It should be noted that the costs incurred by Great Britain in relation to extradition of Polish people is £25 million pounds per year, whereas the upkeep of a person in a British prison is about £4,000 per month. It is estimated that under 1,000 polish people are kept in British prisons. Extradition also means that the British police have a lot more work and are flooded with paperwork.
In accordance with the statistics, the majority of extradition cases relate to minor or frivolous offences. A term “pig rustling” is used to describe it. It cannot be said that they are always such minor and frivolous cases, some are very serious, and on the basis of whom the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is issued. However, the majority of these cases are for minor offences such as stealing a jacket under the influence of alcohol, cycling under the influence of alcohol, being in possession of a small amount of marihuana or an unregulated fine or insurance policy.
Although the judges in London Westminster Magistrates Court, where the European Arrest Warrants are dealtwith, in many cases do not find a basis for extradition – it is worth keeping an eye on article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights Law which gives everyone the right to respect private and family life, as well as article 6, which provides for the right to a fair trial.
“Unfortunately EAW’s are still flooding the British justice system and it seems that for judges in Westminster Magistrates Court, the above guarantees are inadequate as many scenarios are similar: the person in question committed a crime many years ago but now has a family with children in the UK. Therefore, it seems that all of this should be taken into consideration before a convicted or sought person, comes to the Britain” – explains Anna Matelska.
In relation to “Brexit” and the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union, will the law concerning the extradition of Poles change?
This case is not clear and there are only speculations. The UK government says that they are planning to continue with the current system. Perhaps Poland may have to sign new international agreements with the UK in regards to this issue, since it is likely that the UK European Extradition Convention from 1957 will cease to operate. However, everything will depend on the content of the agreements, which Poland will have to sign with Great Britain. Currently the date of Great Britain leaving the European Union is under a big question mark. At the beginning of November,the British High Tribunal ruled that to begin the formal process of the country leaving the European Union, both chambers of Parliaments have to agree. Such a situation will give rise to lots of formalities which will delay the process of the United Kingdom leaving the EU. Therefore, for the time being, nothing will change for Poles who are threatened with extradition.
So how does the whole proceeding look on the basis of the European Arrest Warrant?
It happens very quickly. The wanted person, after they are arrested will be taken to the Westminster Magistrates Court in London, where the decision about his/her extradition will be made. It is important to remember, in accordance with the Extradition Act 2003, there is a very limited basis on which it is possible to oppose extradition. Hence it is necessary to have a lawyer which has professional knowledge in this specialist field. Arguments which are usually presented before the court, relate to human rights. If the final hearing before the Magistrates Court goes unfavourably and extradition is ordered, you may applyfor a permission of appeal to the High Court in London within 7 days, where de facto the chances of fighting extradition are in some cases higher. However, you have to note that if the person consents to extradition then he/she loses their right to an appeal against this decision.
“Despite the fact that the courts are tied with the Extradition Act 2003,there are not many opportunities to avoid the extradition. Our office, AM INTERNATIONAL SOLICITORS, specializes in extradition; we never give up and always try to give the best advice in accordance with the client’s unique situation. In effect, it is a fact that the majority of our clients avoid extradition. Therefore,it’s worthwhile resolving your problems via the law to move past theconflicts! Thanks to our help, our nationals are able to settle their situation in Poland, although their extradition process has been initiated in the UK. We work together with professionals who have several years of experience and offices in all regions of Poland. In Poland they are able to quickly and effectively take on your case” – adds Anna Matelska.
Polish authorities are obliged to prosecute all crimes. It is worthwhile mentioning that often the EAW refers to suspended judgements, in cases where it was suddenly ordered for unknown reasons for Poles living in the UK. Many cases for which the EAW was issued in Poland, occur after the ingeneration of our lawyers was withdrawn by the Polish authorities and this takes place before they were put under extradition.This demonstrates that in many cases, passing the decision about extradition through the Magistrates Court in early stages is not an ideal solution and does not work in favour of the person for whom the EAW was issued.
Additionally, a frequent mistake which appears in the EAW is the failure to meet the appeal deadline. In many cases the letter is submitted with a one day delay.
The team of solicitors which specialize in extradition law at AM INTERNATIONAL SOLICTITORS, have an unbeatable reputation of solving extradition cases. Our barristers and solicitors have several years of experience with extradition cases while taking into account human rights law.
Language barriers should not stop clients from seeking their rights. Another advantage of our office is the presence of a polish lawyer at every stage of the proceedings. Our experienced team of lawyers has represented clients in many extradition cases before the Magistrates Court, High Court and even before The House of Lords, the highest appeal chamber in the United Kingdom, now replaced by the Supreme Court. Many cases led by our lawyers have ended with spectacular success.
“No doubt that our main aim is to be successful through the possibility of avoiding a heavy and difficult extradition procedure and preventing the last stage of extradition, which is handing over the wanted person through the authorities to Poland” – Adds Anna Matelska