13:06, August 07 235 0 theguardian.com

2018-08-07 13:06:06
EU nations 'should continue extraditions to the UK until Brexit'

EU nations should continue extraditions to the UK until it leaves the bloc next year, despite claims that Brexit could cause uncertainty for suspects, according to a legal opinion written for the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The opinion by the advocate general at the EU’s highest court was issued after the high court in Ireland referred a case concerning the extradition of a man wanted in relation to alleged rape, arson and murder, on the grounds there was a risk that the man’s rights under present EU law could be compromised post-Brexit.

It asked for the ECJ’s view after the man mounted a legal challenge to a European arrest warrant (EAW), arguing he could not surrender to British authorities on the grounds that he could be subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment once the UK leaves the bloc.

The suspect has been in custody since 3 February 2016 after two EAWs were issued in 2016.

The Irish court had ruled against the suspect, known as RO, in relation to all of the objections to extradition save the consequences of Brexit.

In his opinion, Maciej Szpunar, the ECJ’s advocate general, said the EAW should continue to apply as long as the UK remained an EU member state.

He also said that there were “no tangible indications” that the UK would “not respect” the fundamental human rights enshrined in European law.

“The UK has decided to withdraw from the EU, not to abandon the rule of law or the protection of fundamental rights. Consequently, in the Advocate General’s view, there is no basis to question the UK’s continued commitment to fundamental rights,” Szpunar said.

The advocate general’s opinion is not legally binding but is often reflected in the final ruling, which will be handed down later this year.

The European Arrest Warrant system allows EU countries to request the extradition of suspects from other member states, with very few reasons allowed for refusal.