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Germany refuse to send wanted man to UK because of ‘state of UK prisons’

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Germany refuse extradition of prisoner

Due to fears about dangerous prison conditions, a German court has refused to transport a criminal suspect to England for trial.

An Albanian man is wanted in the United Kingdom on suspicion of trafficking 5kg of cocaine and laundering £330,000. He was apprehended in Germany on the basis of an international arrest warrant issued by Westminster magistrates. However, Jan-Carl Janssen, his defense counsel, contended that the man should not be transported to the UK since the degree of overcrowding, violence, and staff shortages in prisons would violate his human rights.

According to a report in the German legal journal Strafverteidiger, on the final day of the court-imposed deadline, a response was sent from a police station in Manchester, which did not include any guarantees but stated that the UK was planning to build 20,000 new prison places to ease overcrowding – seemingly confirming the concerns about current crowding levels. The letter did not specify the prison, but stated that the suspect would most likely be imprisoned in the London region at-least initially.

Wandsworth, one of London’s biggest remand prisons, is at 160 percent capacity, according to the defense counsel. The court then requested that the UK provide specific guarantees and facts concerning Wandsworth jail by a deadline, but the UK did not comply with the deadline, therefore the court ruled that the extradition application was “currently inadmissible” and released the individual. The court issued its verdict in March, but the matter was just recently made public.

Writing about the case in the Law Gazette, Jonathan Goldsmith – a Law Society council member and chair of the body’s policy and regulatory affairs committee – called the court’s decision a “severe rebuke” and said: “This is an embarrassment for the UK. There have been similar court decisions before under the European Arrest Warrant framework, but in relation to member states with whose records on prisons and human rights we would not wish to compare ourselves.”

Responding to the case, Andrew Neilson, campaigns director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Our prison conditions are not only unable to provide a healthy and safe environment for the people in them but are now internationally recognised as unfit for purpose.

“That British prisons are notorious for posing a human rights risk should heap shame on the government, who continue to cram more and more people into them, with no thought for safety, wellbeing or rehabilitation.”

In another case earlier this year, the Irish High Court refused to extradite to Scotland a defendant suffering from neurodevelopmental disorders and mental health conditions, citing concerns about the status of Scottish prisons. According to the Irish court, Barlinnie prison in Glasgow is 132% full, and convicts are confined to their cells for 22 hours a day, with less than three square metres of floor space per prisoner.

Germany’s verdict comes as ‘recalls’ to prison requested and authorised by the Probation Service on their own authority, soar 23% despite 75% not being due to re-offending behaviour.

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