On 12th July, the Divisional Court handed down the Judgement in Shumba, Bechian and Henta v France  EWHC 1762 (Admin), and found that the Appellants face a real risk of Article 3 breach if extradited to France.
MW Solicitors acted for the second Appellant Mr Bechian in this significant High Court decision.
This case is important as it is the first case in which conditions in French prisons, which were criticised by the recent Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) report dated 7 April 2017, have been considered by the Divisional Court.
The Appellants relied on expert evidence which suggested that if extradited, they would serve their sentences in one of four prisons, namely Villepinte, Fresnes, Nanterre or Fleury-Mérogis, all within the Paris region. These prisons have been the subject of heavy criticism by the CPT due to overcrowding amongst other unsatisfactory conditions of detention including lack of time outside the cell for prisoners, lack of a proper bed and the prescence of rats within the prison.
The Court held at para. 87 that
“In relation to those four prisons, we are satisfied on the evidence that there may be substantial grounds for believing that the Appellants face a real risk of inhuman or degrading treatment if they are extradited”.
Furthermore, the Court concluded that the first stage of C-404/15 and C-659/15 PPU Aranyosi and Caldararu  3 WLR 807 had been met and that
“there is sufficient evidence before the Court to require the Court to make a request of the French authorities setting out certain questions on which we need specific information before this Court could permit extradition of these Appellants to France” (para. 89).
The Court have requested answers from the French authorities to four detailed questions around the conditions of detention that Mr Bechian and the two other Appellant’s will be held in if their extradition to France is executed. We await the response to these questions, which are due by 7th September.
Mr Bechian was represented by Alison MacDonald QC and Emilie Pottle of Counsel. Mr Henta and Mr Shumba were represented by Alison MacDonald QC and Emilie Pottle (for Mr Henta) and Saoirse Townshend (for Mr Shumba).
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