Judgment I. ÚS 1015/14 – Legal Basis for Extradition to Russian Federation

19 September 2016

On 23 September the Panel of the Constitutional Court granted the complaint of O. I. A. who alleged that his extradition for criminal prosecution to Russian Federation would violate his rights. The Constitutional Court held that it is unacceptable to proceed on the basis of vague description of the extradition offence which does not allow to determine the elements of a crime under the national law with sufficient certainty. The extradition request must show that the criminal proceedings is based on the certain body of evidence which reasonably justifies the suspicion of a commission of a crime. If the ordinary court overlooks flagrant shortcomings in the actions based on which the criminal proceeding is being conducted in the requesting state, rights under Article 6 of the Convention of the suspect are violated.

The Constitutional Court already granted the applicant’s constitutional complaint against the extradition proceedings in 2013, finding that the extradition request did not contain sufficiently concrete description of the offence, it lacked the reasoning justifying the suspicion and evidence linking the offence with the complainant. On the basis of the supplementary documents provided by the Russian Federation the High Court granted the extradition.

As to the submission that the extradition to Russia (Dagestan) per se appears unacceptable, the Constitutional Court reiterated that it does not share the complainant’s blanket condemnations regarding the guarantees of a fair trial and corresponding treatment of imprisoned persons in Russia. It emphasized that Russia is a member state of the UN and the Council of Europe, and a signatory to conventions concerning the protection of human rights. Therefore, one can expect a certain standard of these rights, and Russia is subject to the proceedings and control mechanisms that international treaties provide, including proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights. For that reason, among others, the complainant’s request, flatly rejecting extradition for criminal proceedings to Russia per se appears unacceptable.

The Constitutional Court held that when examining the extradition requests, the ordinary courts do not decide whether the requested person committed the offence or not. At the same time, the extradition file must show that the criminal proceedings is based on the certain body of evidence which reasonably justifies the suspicion of a commission of a crime. The documents supplemented by the Russian Federation after the first Constitutional Court’s decision removed formal shortcomings that would prevent the actual evaluation of the permissibility of the extradition. Under the Code of Criminal Procedure the extradition is excluded in case of a reasonable doubt that the criminal proceedings in the requesting state would not conform to the requirements of Article 3 and 6 of the Convention or the punishment would violate Article 3 of the Convention.

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The High Court did evaluate the general conditions in Russia and Dagestan, however, it did not translate these finding into individual assessment of the complainant’s situation. The probability that the justice will be denied in the Republic of Dagestan is so high that the ordinary courts should be diligent in every case in considering the reasonable basis of the criminal proceedings. The Constitutional Court concluded that the criminal prosecution is in fact based only on the testimony of a single injured company and indirectly on the testimony of the agent of one “shell company” which differs with the former testimony in part. Any further data linking the complainant’s business activities with the offences he is suspected of is missing. The extradition request is not expected to dispel every single doubt, however, it should provide sufficient information that would in a necessary manner remove concerns that the general risks related to the criminal prosecution may affect the complainant. Insofar as the High Court accepted the extradition request it did not guarantee complainant’s fair trial under Article 36 of the Czech Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and Article 6 of the Convention.