German court rules UK prisons unsafe
An Albanian man sought in the United Kingdom on drug-related offenses has not been extradited from Germany on grounds concerning his safety in the UK prison system.
A German court has declined to approve an extradition request from the United Kingdom, citing poor conditions in British jails. The March decision was just recently made public and concerned an Albanian man sought in the United Kingdom on drug-related offenses.
The court concluded that the extradition requests were inadmissible due to "valid grounds" regarding a "real threat for the protection of the prosecuted person's basic rights."
"Without British guarantees, extradition is not possible in view of the state of the British prison system," the court declared, adding that "there are no legal remedies against this."
The Albanian is accused of smuggling 5kg of cocaine and laundering close to $414,104 in the United Kingdom. The suspect was given an international arrest warrant by Westminster Magistrates Court, often known as an Interpol red notice.
He escaped to Germany, where he was apprehended by police.
Jan-Carl Janssen, his defense lawyer, persuaded the judge that the British prison system is plagued by chronic overcrowding, staff shortages, and prisoner violence.
In May, according to exclusive data obtained by The Observer from police in England and Wales, almost 1,000 rapes have been reported to have occurred in prisons since 2010, and 2,336 sexual assaults were reported during the same time, as experts warn that the real numbers for both crimes may be far higher since some go unreported.
A government report stated in September that 52% of prisons in England and Wales were overcrowded, as it announced last year a fund of £500 million in an attempt to establish thousands of new prisons for men and women. As of now, there are just under 90,000 people in prison in the UK.
The German court contacted UK officials, demanding assurances that conditions in the country's jails comply with the European Convention on Human Rights' minimal criteria.
The judge also requested that British officials identify which prisons the Albanian man would be held in if he was extradited, as well as the conditions in these facilities.
A police station in Manchester responded to the court's request immediately, explaining that 20,000 additional jail beds would be given to address the issue of overcrowding. The British authorities did not respond to the other request.
The man was released in Germany because he was not sought in any crimes. According to The Guardian, the case is likely the first of its kind in Germany, with judges previously denying extradition to several other European countries but not the UK.
The Law Society of England and Wales' Jonathan Goldsmith stated in the organization's Gazette that the verdict was an "embarrassment for the UK" and a scathing condemnation of the government's record on the administration of justice.