Berlin Higher Regional Court revokes extradition warrant

20. 08. 2020 - Everything else would not have worked. The Berlin Higher Regional Court (Kammergericht)  has now - after several previous decisions on continued detention - revoked an extradition warrant based on an extradition request from Belarus. Our client was released from extradition custody in Berlin on 20 August 2020. This was long overdue.

German extradition lawyer on drastically deficient prison conditions in Belarus

The drastically deficient prison conditions in Belarus (e.g. size of detention rooms, sanitary facilities, access to daylight and water, aggression of staff) have long been known. Nevertheless, the Lukashenko government cannot complain that the German Higher Regional Courts would always immediately refuse extradition from Germany to Belarus. Such spontaneous reflexes are foreign to most German higher regional courts anyway. No matter where the extradition request comes from, the persecuted person must regularly expect to be arrested in Germany and subsequently detained for extradition until the Higher Regional Courts are convinced that there is an obstacle to extradition.

German extradition lawyer on prison conditions in Belarus after nationwide protests

In connection with the nationwide protests against the re-election of the controversial President Alexander Lukashenko the press has already reported on August 13, 2020 of 700 arrests in one day, a total of 6,700 people in recent days. The thousands of arrests have once again explosively increased the catastrophic overcrowding of all prisons in Belarus. Reliable figures on the overcrowding rate of prisons in Belarus cannot be obtained in any case. However, I know from a trial at the Munich Higher Regional Court in October 2018 that Belarus has given assurances there that more than 2.5 m² of detention space per prisoner are not available, which officially confirms the general overcrowding. According to official figures, there are 35,720 places of detention in Belarus, so that the arrests in August 2020 already cause the overcrowding rate to skyrocket by another 20 percent.

German extradition lawyer on prison conditions and European Court of Human Rights

According to the established case-law of all German higher regional courts, the examination of whether the conditions of detention in the requesting state satisfy Article 3 of the Human Rights Convention must be carried out on the basis of the criteria laid down by the European Court of Human Rights in its landmark decision of 2016. This includes, among other things, that the persecuted person, in the event of his or her extradition, has at least 3 m² of space permanently available to him or her. If this is not ensured prior to extradition, the German judiciary is faced with an obstacle to extradition under 73 IRG.

German extradition lawyer on aggression by prison staff in Belarus

The events of August 2020 have also brought the assaults and mistreatment by the police and in prisons in Belarus to public attention with drastic pictures.

Inquiries from German authorities as to what is being done there to prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading in prisons have - as expected - not been answered conclusively.

German extradition lawyer on COVID-19 in prisons

In other countries with - compared to Belarus - comparatively better human rights situation in prisons, these have already become the largest "corona hotspots". The "Neue Zürcher Zeitung", for example, reported online as early as July 20, 2020 under the headline: "Locked up in a mass camp - that's how prisons have become the largest corona hotspots in the USA". Among other things, the San Quentin prison about twenty minutes by car north of San Francisco reported that two out of three of the total 3400 are infected with corona. According to the report, the five largest sources of infection in the USA are prisons.

"Neues Deutschland" already reported on April 25, 2020 on the topic of "Prison Health Risk" in the USA that the corona virus spread seven times faster among prisoners in New York City than in the free population.

There is no reason to assume that the Covid-19 situation in prisons in Belarus is better than in the USA. But there is every reason to believe that the already precarious situation in prisons in Belarus has worsened dramatically. Prisoners have hardly any possibilities to protect themselves from transmission. There are not enough functioning sanitary facilities, disinfectants, soap, masks and disposable gloves. And what is even worse: after the pictures that have been seen in the last few days of mass events in Belarus, there is no awareness at all that one can and must protect oneself.

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