European Court of Human Rights to decide whether extradition to face life imprisonment without parole in the USA breaches Article 3 ECHR – Hafeez v UK

The AIRE Centre has today intervened in Hafeez v United Kingdom (App no 14198/20), a case in which the applicant is sought to be extradited to the USA. He is alleged by the US to be guilty of various drug offences and, if found guilty, there is a real risk he would be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. In a line of case-law beginning with Vinter v UK in 2013, the European Court of Human Rights has found that sentences of imprisonment for life without parole, where there is no other transparent and realistic mechanism for review, amount to inhuman and degrading treatment in breach of Article 3 ECHR. One issue in this case is whether the American mechanisms for review of life sentences without parole – Presidential clemency and compassionate release pursuant to Title 18, paragraph 3582 of the US Code – are sufficiently objective, transparent and fair. If not, extradition to that country would be in violation of Article 3 ECHR. The Divisional Court in Hafeez v Government of the USA [2020] EWHC 155 (Admin) found that there would be no such breach of Article 3 ECHR. Another issue is whether removal of the applicant to the US prison system, suffering from substantial outbreaks of COVID-19, would breach Article 3 ECHR in circumstances where he has relevant comorbidities. Yaaser Vanderman is instructed by Matthew Evans at the AIRE Centre.

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