By Daily Mail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 23:27, 17 August 2012
UPDATED: 23:27, 17 August 2012
A senior judge yesterday cracked down on Poles clogging up the British courts to avoid facing justice in their homeland.
He said the courts had been inundated with appeals against extradition based on ‘unfounded’ complaints about conditions in Polish prisons.
Dismissing six cases, Sir John Thomas, president of the Queen’s Bench Division, rejected claims that conditions in Polish prisons are so ‘inhuman or degrading’ that they violate inmates’ fundamental rights.
All six applicants in yesterday’s hearing, who moved to the UK to live and work, were held under European arrest warrants in connection with alleged crimes committed in Poland.
Each case raised the issue of whether extraditing the applicant would, because of Polish prison conditions, result in inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment in breach of article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, said the judge.
The purpose of hearing the six appeals together was to consider, in the light of the large number of cases coming before the courts, whether they raised any new issues sufficient to establish an article 3 case, he added.
The judge ruled that they did not, and that the law was clear.
As a member state of the Council of Europe, Poland was presumed able and willing to fulfil its obligations relating to prison conditions under the human rights convention.
Poland was also an EU member, strengthening the presumption that it abided by the convention.
The judge said that for an appeal to succeed, the appellant had to produce compelling evidence that prison conditions breached article 3.
New appeals must clearly identify factual issues not already considered by the High Court, and will be listed ‘within days’ of being lodged so they can be dealt with swiftly.
The judge said: ‘As it is highly unlikely that new factual issues will arise or that the type of evidence required will be provided, it is anticipated that there will be few, if any, further appeals which raise the issue.’ Sir John, sitting with Mr Justice Globe, considered evidence from Polish judges that conditions in the country’s penal system were ‘good enough’ and that chronic difficulties, particularly over-crowding, were being tackled.
Lawyers for the six men facing extradition had pointed to evidence from Maria Ejchart of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and Dr Piotr Kladoczny, head of the Institute of Law at Warsaw University.
They argued that new prisoners were often kept for weeks in tiny, temporary cells; that proper medical facilities were often not available; that opportunities for rehabilitation were almost non-existent; and that prisoners were guaranteed cell space of just three square metres.
But Sir John said evidence was ‘simply insufficient’ to overcome the presumption that Poland complied with its human rights obligations.
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