EIT:n suuri jaosto ratkaisee voidaanko USA:n luovutuspyyntöön suostua, jos on riski siitä, että luovutettu tuomitaan elinkautiseen vankeuteen ilman mahdollisuutta ehdonalaiseen vapauteen

24.10.2021 | Oikeusuutiset

Markku Fredman

Grand Chamber to examine second case concerning extradition to the United States, which could lead to life sentence without parole

The Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights to which the case Sanchez-Sanchez v. United Kingdom (application no. 22854/20) had been allocated has relinquished jurisdiction in favour of the Grand Chamber of the Court.
The case concerns the applicant’s extradition to the United States, where there is a possibility that he may, if convicted, be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
 
Sanchez-Sanchez v. United Kingdom (application no. 22854/20)

Principal facts

The applicant, Ismail Sanchez-Sanchez, is a Mexican national who was born in 1968. He is detained in Wandsworth Prison in the United Kingdom. He was arrested at Heathrow Airport (United Kingdom) on 19 April 2018 in response to a request from the United States for his provisional arrest.

Mr Sanchez-Sanchez faces extradition to the United States of America, where he is wanted on charges of drug dealing and trafficking.

At the extradition hearing the parties agreed that if Mr Sanchez-Sanchez were convicted of the offences charged, his sentencing would be Level 43 in the US Sentencing Guidelines, which has a sentence range of life imprisonment. The District Judge considered that there was a strong possibility that, if convicted, he would receive a sentence of life imprisonment.

Mr Sanchez-Sanchez’s appeal against extradition was heard by the High Court. Invoking Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention, he argued that there was a real risk that he would receive a sentence of life imprisonment without possibility of release on parole if convicted of the offences charged. In dismissing his appeal, the High Court declined to take into account the European Court’s judgment in Trabelsi v. Belgium of 2014 which found that the applicant’s extradition to the USA where he risked life imprisonment entailed a violation of the Convention. It considered itself bound by the judgment of the House of Lords in R (Wellington) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department [2009] 1 AC 335, which held that to extradite a claimant to the United States of America to face, if convicted, a life sentence without parole would not breach Article 3 of the Convention. The High Court was also satisfied that any life sentence could be reduced since there were two routes by which a prisoner could seek a reduction in sentence under the US system: compassionate release, pursuant to Title 18 of the US Code, and executive clemency.

Complaints and procedure

Relying on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention of Human Rights, Mr Sanchez-Sanchez submits that, if extradited, he will suffer imminent and irreparable harm in the form of a life sentence without parole and that he risked exposure to gross overcrowding, inhuman conditions and torture or other ill-treatment in prison in the United States of America.

The application was lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on 11 June 2020. On 12 June 2020 the Court granted an interim measure to stay the applicant’s extradition to the United States of America. The UK Government were given notice3 of the application, with a question being put to the parties as to whether his extradition would be consistent with the requirements of Article 3 of the Convention.

At the same time, the Chamber decided to grant the cases priority under Rule 41 of the Rules of the Court.

The Chamber to which the case had been allocated relinquished jurisdiction in favour of the Grand Chamber on 19 October 2021.
 

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