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Article 8 success in extradition case

A Polish national whose extradition was sought has narrowly avoided extradition by invoking Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.

Mr Justice Mitting ruled yesterday that the extradition order made by the Westminster Magistrates’ Court should be dismissed and so Karol Cieczka can now remain in this country rather than be extradited.

The Polish Courts had issued a European Arrest Warrant in respect of outstanding prison sentences for various offences that Mr Cieczka had committed whilst he was a juvenile offender in his native Poland.

He had since settled in Ipswich and raised a family. A major factor in his favour was the fact that the original offences were committed in 2007 and there had been many years of delay before the international warrants were issued.

Top extradition lawyer, George Hepburne Scott commented that this was a triumph for human rights.

When so called ‘human rights bars’ are raised in the context of extradition proceedings, the courts have to conduct a balancing exercise with the rights of the individual on one side of the scales and the public interest in extradition on the other.

The scales will generally tip in favour of the ‘weighty’ public interest in extradition, however, occasionally the tip in favour of the ‘requested person.’

In this case, listed at the High Court on 9th September, top extradition lawyers successfully argued that Mr Cieczka had led a blameless life in this country. He had raised a family and put his past behind him. The fact of no previous convictions since the original offences often provides a great advantage in these situations.

It is interesting to note that the original offences were by no means trivial – they included Robbery and Burglary, however Cieczka’s transformation was felt to be so great that, notwithstanding the gravity of the original offences, he deserved a second chance.

Mr Justice Mitting was particularly impressed with how Cieczka had ‘completely transformed his life’.

Cieczka 29, of Mildenhall, Suffolk was said to have been ‘delighted’ by the judgment.

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides that all citizens are entitled to a Private and Family Life. This means that any interference with such rights must be proportionate and ‘necessary in a democratic society’.

Under Article 8, the rights of family members, especially dependent relatives have to be considered as well as the person whose extradition is sought.

Leading extradition lawyers will often deploy Article 8 arguments to block extradition. There is increasing anxiety in the legal profession about the prospect of the Human Rights Act being repealed post-Brexit.

It remains to be seen what new extradition arrangements will be imposed if the Human Rights Act is repealed.