Extradition: District Court V, Bratislava, Republic of Slovakia v. R.D.F

Updated: Apr 28

District Judge Rules That Extradition to Slovakia of Father of Four Would be Disproportionate and in Breach of Article 8 of the ECHR




Case Summary for Republic of Slovakia v. RDF [2020]

Toby Cadman, of Guernica 37, was instructed in the matter of RDF (“Requested Person”) - a British national. He was an accused person and his extradition was sought by the District Court V, Bratislava, Republic of Slovakia (“Judicial Authority”) in relation to a matter that dates back to 8 May 2015, where the Requested Person is accused of trying to import cannabis into Slovakia. On 30 March 2020, the Requested Person was Discharged by District Judge Michael Fanning sitting at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. The Judicial Authority did not appeal and therefore the discharge become final.

Background

On 8 May 2015, the Requested Person was arrested in the Republic of Slovakia and was detained until 10 May 2015.

On 19 March 2019, the European Arrest Warrant (“EAW”) was issued and was certified on 16 September 2019 by the National Crime Agency. The EAW confirmed that that this was a Framework List offence, that of drug trafficking. The EAW confirmed that the sentencing regime applicable for this class of offence involved a mandatory minimum custodial sentence of three years in Slovakia and a maximum of ten years.


On 9 December 2019, the Requested Person was arrested pursuant to the EAW at Westminster Magistrates’ Court having voluntarily surrendered. The initial hearing took place on the same date and the extradition hearing was opened. On 11 March 2020, the main extradition hearing took place. On 30 March 2020, the judgment of District Judge Michael Fanning was delivered in a remote hearing.

The Extradition Hearing

With regards to the offence, the RP accepts that he was in possession of marijuana but submits that he only had enough sufficient to self-medicate for a back injury that he sustained at the time. District Judge Fanning accepted that there was no evidence of any supply or intention to supply. The EAW confirmed that the RP was co-operative, that the drugs were in a bag in his pocket (which gives an indication of the size of the package) and that he stated that it was for personal use. District Judge Fanning accepted that it did not show the hallmarks of a drug trafficking operation. In turn, the Requested Person’s evidence – that he was on a one-month European road trip with a friend, and that he had acquired enough of the drug for his own personal use for medicinal purposes, was accepted by District Judge Fanning. The Requested Person was detained for three days in Slovakia, admitted possession and was released. He had no impression that he faced a mandatory three-year prison sentence. He gave a UK address, and indeed received correspondence there, despite moving house a number of times.

The issues pursued in resisting the extradition request were: i) compatibility of extradition with the Requested Person’s and his family’s Article 8 Rights (s.21(A)(1)(a) EA 2003); and ii) proportionality of extradition (s.21(A)(1)(b) EA 2003).

Based as it is on the right to a family and a private life, before considering the operation of Article 8 in extradition proceedings, District Judge Fanning considered the evidence of the Requested Person, his ex-wife, his current wife and that of his children. All were highly relevant as it is clear that it is not only the impact of extradition on Requested Person’s Article 8 rights that must be considered but also the impact upon the rights of Requested Person’s wife and children.

The Requested Person is a father to four children. He has two children (14yo and 13yo) from a previous marriage. He separated from his previous marriage in January 2013 and the pair were divorced in May 2017. The Requested Person remarried in September 2019 and the couple have two young children (2yo and a new-born, only two weeks old on the date of the main extradition hearing).

The Requested Person is 39yo and recovering from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. District Judge Fanning accepted that it was beyond doubt that from mid 2017 to the date of the hearing, the RP has been very ill indeed. He has had surgery and chemotherapy and is now in remission.

On consideration of all the live and documentary evidence placed before him, along with the submissions made on behalf of both parties, District Judge Fanning was satisfied to the necessary standard that there were no statutory bars to the extradition request. He was further satisfied to the necessary standard that the Requested Person’s extradition was compatible with his Convention Rights and those of his wife.

However, District Judge Fanning was not satisfied to the necessary standard that the Requested Person’s extradition was compatible with the Convention Rights of others, namely his teenage daughter M (experiencing mental health problems of her own), and his two youngest children – one aged 2 and the other a new-born. Further, District Judge Fanning was not satisfied to the necessary standard that it is proportionate to order the Requested Person’s extradition.

As such, District Judge Fanning discharged RDW from the European Arrest Warrant under s.21A(4) of the Extradition Act 2003. The Judicial Authority did not appeal within the 7-day time limit and therefore the discharge was final.

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