Priti Patel vetoes asylum claim in legal first

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Priti Patel vetoes asylum claim in legal first

Priti Patel with officers from Braintree Community Policing Team (Pic: Essex Police)

An Albanian man facing charges of murder and sex trafficking in Italy has been extradited from the UK via executive writ despite having applied for asylum. Albert Visha was arrested in 2018 at the request of the Italian police for offences including participating in an organised crime group and trafficking Albanian women into the EU. Visha contested Italy’s demand for extradition on grounds that he would be subject to ‘degrading treatment’ under ECHR Article 3.

In an appeal dismissed by the High Court in February, Visha adduced evidence of a serious and growing problem of over-crowding in Italian prisons in alleged breach of Article 3. The judge, however, concluded the evidence presented had not established substantial or sufficient grounds for further inquiry. Visha then applied for asylum in the United Kingdom in March.

However the Secretary of State may override an asylum claim if ‘the person’s life and liberty would not be threatened in that territory by reason of his race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group’ under the Extradition Act 2003, section 40. Priti Patel is the first Home Secretary to have applied this executive power since it was introduced 16 years ago.

Visha’s removal aligns with Patel’s policy aim to ‘stop thugs exploiting the asylum system’. The Home Office said that it would not comment on an individual case. The failure to offer comment may raise concerns about further possible use of this power in future. The Times recently reported that the number of Albanian inmates in Britain’s jails had quadrupled to a record high of 876, the largest foreign group (followed by 754 prisoners from Poland, 734 from Romania and 707 from Ireland).