Blaj & Ors v Court of Alesd, Romania & Ors [2015] EWHC 1710

untitledThe Administrative Court in Blaj & Others held that first, a ‘conviction’ European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is not invalid where it fails to give the date of conviction and sentence and second, conditions in Romanian prisons do not breach Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Thirdly, in two appeals, extradition was not disproportionate under Article 8 of the ECHR. The judgment is available here.

Blaj & Others was a case of three appeals that were heard together:

  • The appellant in the first appeal, B, was convicted of the offence of death by dangerous driving.
  • The appellant in the second appeal, R, was convicted and sentenced to five years and six months’ imprisonment for grievous bodily harm.
  • The appellant in the third appeal, T, was convicted and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for attempted murder.

The appellants contended:

  1. B: that his EAW did not provide the date of his conviction and sentence and was therefore invalid.
  2. B, R and T: that there were substantial grounds for believing that there was a real risk that they would be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment because of the poor conditions in prisons across Romania. Assurances by Romanian authorities that persons deprived of liberty would provide space exceeding two meters squared (in a semi-open / open regime) or three meters squared (in a closed regime).
  3. B and T: extradition would be disproportionate under Article 8 of the ECHR.

Lord Justice Aikens and Mr Justice Simon dismissed the appeals:

  1. A ‘conviction’ warrant need not obtain the date on which the judgment or sentence has been passed. Only the facts and circumstances of conviction are required, to raise any potential bars to extradition. B’s EAW valid.
  2. Where a person is in a multi-occupancy cell, he has to “dispose” of a minimum of three squared meters of floor space and detainees should be able to move freely between furniture. The test is not three squared meters net of bed and furniture. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) had not condemned Romanian national law setting a two meter square minimum net of bed and furniture and therefore did not breach Article 3 ECHR. T failed to show he would be sent to a prison that would not meet these standards. Regarding B, whether or not he would be detained in closed or semi-open condition, was Article 3 ECHR compliant. The assurance was Article 3 ECHR compliant and did not constitute fresh evidence. Florea [2014] EWHC 2528 (Admin) applied; Ananyev, Othman, and Florea [2014] EWHC 4367 (Admin) considered.
  3. The balancing exercise was carried out. The ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ weighed up carefully and all factors considered. With respect to T, the judge had carried out the appropriate balancing exercise. In both cases, the Article 8 ECHR decision was not wrong.

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