A Dutch court has refused to extradite a British man subject to a European arrest warrant owing to their concerns about the ‘inhumane and degrading’ conditions in HMP Liverpool.
The individual concerned was the subject of an arrest warrant issued in Liverpool in July 2017 on charges of trafficking heroin and cocaine. He was subsequently arrested in the Netherlands, from where he successfully resisted an initial extradition application at the end of last week.
The court in Amsterdam heard how a report of HMP Liverpool in September 2017 revealed what inspectors termed ‘some of the most disturbing prison conditions we have ever seen” and “conditions which have no place in an advanced nation in the 21st century’. You can read about HMP Liverpool on the Justice Gap here.
The report detailed how prisoners were living in squalid conditions, with rats, cockroaches and piles of litter. Some areas were deemed so hazardous they could even not be cleaned.
The court remarked on the similar conditions found in HMP Birmingham and HMP Bedford. Citing Article 3 ECHR (no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment),the Dutch court ruled that they did not have sufficient evidence to conclude that the man would not be sent back to one of these prisons.
‘What has been put forward by the UK judicial authorities is too general and insufficient to assume that the detention conditions in the aforementioned prison institutions have significantly improved.
In these circumstances, the expectation that the situation will improve rapidly is not sufficient to assume that the real risk of inhumane treatment has actually disappeared. The already established real danger of inhuman or degrading treatment in these establishments has not been eliminated.’
A letter written by the Director General of Prisons to the judges overseeing the Dutch case argued: ‘We do not accept those conditions anywhere in our prisons amount to inhuman or degrading treatment contrary to Article Three [of the] European Court of Human Rights.’ The letter stated that the prisons in Liverpool, Birmingham and Bedford had undergone major improvements since the date of the report.
This statement comes after the prison watchdog in February issued an ‘urgent notification’ for the first time after a separate report found that HMP Nottingham was ‘fundamentally unsafe’ and inmates were at risk of death.
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