Landmark decision by High Court: extradition appeal reopened amid ‘false’ assurance from Judicial Authority

The High Court has delivered its first decision in which an extradition appeal was reopened and allowed on human rights grounds. The case has particular significance for sole carers, but also has ramifications for cases in which assurances are relied upon by a judicial authority.  

 

In BZ v Circuit Court in Kielce, the appellant is a single mother with two infant children. Her extradition was sought by Poland to serve a sentence of 34 months’ imprisonment for thefts of minor value, including that of a pram.  BZ was accommodated by Women’s Aid, having fled domestic violence. 

 

Following two appeal hearings in 2015, Silber J upheld the District Judge’s order for BZ’s  extradition on the basis that he was satisfied that an assurance had been provided by the Polish Court that BZ would serve her sentence in a mother and child unit shortly after the birth of her second child. Following the dismissal of her appeal in the High Court, extradition was postponed after the National Crime Agency attempted to put BZ on a military extradition flight without her two children.   

 

Acting pro-bono following the dismissal of the appeal, Ben Cooper and Kate O’Raghallaigh secured the involvement of Refuge, the national domestic violence charity and, together with the assistance of Fair Trials International Polish legal experts Sylwia Gregorczk-Abram and Mikolaj Pietrzak, gathered crucial evidence about the impact of extradition on BZ and the legality and viability of the Polish assurance trusted by the High Court.. Following parallel proceedings in Poland which ultimately upheld the EAWs and expert evidence as to the legal enforceability of the Polish assurance, Ben and Kate applied to the High Court for BZ’s appeal to be reopened. 

 

In reopening and allowing the appeal, Silber J expressed his thanks to the dedication of the defence team for their efforts on behalf of BZ, and criticised the judicial authority for having provided to the UK what was a ‘false’ and ‘incorrect’ assurance. The Polish courts have still not withdrawn the EAW against BZ, despite the clear vulnerability of BZ and the position now taken by the High Court.

 

Ben Cooper and Kate O’Raghallaigh were instructed by Kamila Kwincinska at Lansbury Worthington Solicitors.

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