Judgment No. II. ÚS 1221/13 – Extradition of an asylum seeker to Georgia in the course of pending asylum proceedings

07 February 2014

On 29 January 2014 the Second Chamber annulled the decision of Minister of Justice authorising the extradition of the applicant to Georgia as it violated Article 7 § 2 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, Article 3 of the European Convention and Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture, i.e. the guarantee not to be tortured or ill-treated and the non-refoulement principle.

The applicant is a Georgian national who left Georgia in 1994. In 1996 he applied for asylum in the Czech Republic. In the meantime in Georgia, he was found guilty of murder in absentia. His first request for asylum in the Czech Republic was rejected. Subsequent proceedings on granting the international protection to him are still pending. In his constitutional appeal, the applicant sought annulment of ordinary courts’ decisions allowing his extradition. Additionally, he requested annulment of a decision of the Minister of Justice who repeatedly authorised his extradition, although his previous decision had been annulled by the Constitutional Court. The applicant argued that there were serious grounds to believe that he would be subject to ill-treatment if extradited to Georgia.  

The Constitutional Court found that the actions of Minister of Justice violated the applicant’s right not to be subjected to ill-treatment. Minister of Justice issued the decision disregarding the fact that the proceedings on international protection were still pending. Therefore he could not be assured that the extradition would not lead to a real risk of ill-treatment or a violation of the non-refoulement principle. It follows that the pending status of the proceedings on international protection (including subsequent judicial review of respective administrative decisions) constitutes a legal obstacle to extradition. Failing to delay the decision on extradition until the final result of the international protection proceedings may thus lead to a violation of the right not to be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment. For these reasons the Second Chamber of the Constitutional Court annulled the decision of the Minister of Justice. The remaining complaints were rejected.