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13/02/24

Extradition | Assurances | Zabolotnyi v Hungary

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When a Judge is considering an extradition request by a ‘Requesting State’ he has to be sure that, if granted, the human rights of the ‘Requested Person’, as provided by the European Convention on Human Rights (‘the ECHR’), will not be violated by the Requesting State.

Article 3 of the ECHR states:

No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’.

If the Judge decides that granting the extradition request would violate the Requested Person’s human rights, under section 87 of the Extradition Act 2003 the court must order the person’s discharge’.

The Requesting State is entitled to tender assurances to the Court that the Requested Person’s human rights will be protected in the manner required by the ECHR.

In Zabolotnyi v The Mateszalka District Court, Hungary [2021] UKSC 14, the Supreme Court considered an appeal from a High Court decision to allow extradition.

Hamraj Kang of KANGS Solicitors explains the circumstancesof this case.

KANGS regularly defends clients, from our Mayfair office in London, facing extradition proceedings before Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

The Team at KANGS, which offers substantial expertise in defending extradition proceedings is led by Hamraj Kang, ranked in the ‘Top Tier’ of criminal solicitors nationwide, the winner of The Legal 500 ‘Criminal, Fraud and Licensing solicitor of the year’ and one of only two solicitors in England and Wales ranked as a ‘Star Individual’ for eight consecutive years in the Chambers UK Directory for his work in the field of financial crime and fraud.

If you are the subject of any extradition proceedings, whether you are a UK national or a foreign national living in the UK, our expert Team can assist you.

For an initial no obligation discussion, please contact our team at any of the offices detailed below:

The Case in Focus | KANGS Extradition Solicitors

The circumstances

Hungary issued a European Arrest Warrant against Oleksandr Zabolotnyi, a Ukrainian national, on the suspicion that he had obtained a false Hungarian passport in 2015.

At Westminster Magistrates’ Court, District Judge Snow allowed the extradition, citing the presumption that Hungary would comply with the ECHR.

Accordingly, in order to oppose this Order, it was necessary for Mr. Zabolotnyi to show that, if extradited, his human rights, as protected by Article 3 of the ECHR, would be violated.

The High Court

Mr. Zabolotnyi appealed to the High Court, stating that, due to prison overcrowding in Hungary, his rights would be violated.

Permission to appeal was granted, following which, the Hungarian Department of Justice issued an assurance that Mr. Zabolotnyi, would at all times, be held in a prison cell with at least three square metres of personal space being the minimum requirement specified by the ECHR in Ananyev v Russia (2012) 55 EHRR 18.

In response, in support of Mr. Zabolotnyi, a Hungarian lawyer, Dr András Kádár gave evidence that Hungary had previously breached its assurances in three cases where people had been extradited from the UK and Germany.

The High Court dismissed the Appeal as it considered Dr Kádár’s evidence too limited to demonstrate systemic breaches and it could not be certain that it had before it all of the available evidence.

The Court found the evidence too limited to show Hungary was likely to breach its assurance in Mr. Zabolotnyi’s case and the Extradition Order remained fixed.

The Supreme Court

In addition to a number of technical evidential considerations, the Supreme Court decided that the High Court had correctly assessed Dr Kádár’s evidence as unlikely to be material because, inter alia:

  • his evidence was hearsay which could not be challenged,
  • though there was evidence of some breaches of assurances given by Hungary on previous occasions, these were quickly rectified and not repeated,
  • there was clear evidence that Hungarian prison conditions had improved,
  • evidence of breaches before the improvements was not expressly pertinent;
  • the limited evidence fell short of showing systemic breaches of assurances given by Hungary.

The Supreme Court unanimously agreed to dismiss the Appeal allowing Mr. Zabolotnyi’s extradition to proceed.

How Can We KANGS Help? | KANGS Specialist Extradition Solicitors

It is possible to rebut assurances given by a Requesting State provided that compelling and persuasive evidence is carefully collated and meticulously presented to the court.

It is essential that any Requested Person seeks advice and guidance from skilled experts.

Our highly experienced Team will be pleased to assist with the following:

  • attend, advise and guide you throughout the initial stages such as the first appearance before Westminster Magistrates’ Court including applications for bail
  • collate and examine all pertinent evidence whilst preparing your opposition to the proceedings,
  • carefully select and instruct an appropriate leading barrister according to your discrete requirements,
  • provide such on- going support as is required throughout the proceedings.

Our Extradition Team assists clients throughout the country.

If we can be of assistance, our Team is available via:

Telephone: 0333 370 4333

Email: info@kangssolicitors.co.uk

We provide initial no-obligation discussion at our three offices in London, Birmingham and Manchester.

Alternatively, discussions can be held virtually through live conferencing or telephone.

Hamraj Kang

Hamraj Kang
Senior Partner

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Helen Holder

Helen Holder
Partner

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