European Arrest Warrant: Dutch court seeks answers from CJEU over extradition to Poland

Dutch courts have suspended extraditions to Poland, pending answers from the Court of Justice of the EU over whether the Polish judicial system can provide the necessary guarantees regarding the right to a fair trial. The move follows doubts expressed by courts in Germany, Ireland and Spain.

"The Netherlands will stop extraditing suspects or convicts to Poland over concerns that the country's courts are no longer independent, an Amsterdam court said on Thursday.

The same court had already asked the Court of Justice of the EU in a similar case in July whether the extradition of Polish suspects must be halted considering that "the independence of Polish courts and thus the right to a fair trial have come under increasing pressure."

The Dutch court said in a statement that it had sent additional questions to the CJEU to be sure that "the lack of sufficient guarantees for the independence of Polish judges has any consequences" for requests under the European Arrest Warrant system.

It added that because of these rulings "it is clear that no more people will be handed over to Poland for the time being.""

See: Dutch courts to stop extraditing Polish suspects (Politico, link)

Following a referral to the CJEU from the Irish courts regarding the conditions for extraditing suspects to Poland, the CJEU ruled that any systemic or generalised deficiencies in the independence of the Polish courts had to be assessed in the light of the individual circumstances of the person facing extradition:

"...where the executing judicial authority, called upon to decide whether a person in respect of whom a European arrest warrant has been issued for the purposes of conducting a criminal prosecution is to be surrendered, has material, such as that set out in a reasoned proposal of the Commission adopted pursuant to Article 7(1) TEU, indicating that there is a real risk of breach of the fundamental right to a fair trial guaranteed by the second paragraph of Article 47 of the Charter, on account of systemic or generalised deficiencies so far as concerns the independence of the issuing Member State’s judiciary, that authority must determine, specifically and precisely, whether, having regard to his personal situation, as well as to the nature of the offence for which he is being prosecuted and the factual context that form the basis of the European arrest warrant, and in the light of the information provided by the issuing Member State pursuant to Article 15(2) of the framework decision, there are substantial grounds for believing that that person will run such a risk if he is surrendered to that State."

See: Case C‑216/18 PPU (Curia, link)

 

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