The Circuit Court in Warsaw found that a decision to extradite an opposition activist to Belarus was inadmissible under the law. The proceedings in the case had been pending for a few months.
In the first instance, the Circuit Court held that the activist can be legally handed to the Belarusian authorities. During the appeal proceedings, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights presented the Court with a statement on the observance of human rights and freedoms in Belarus. The document focused on such issues as: independence of the judiciary, the functioning of the justice system and guarantees of the right to fair trial, the use of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment.
‘There was a reasonable concern that extradition of the opposition activist to the Republic of Belarus may result in a violation of his rights and freedoms, including the right to a fair trial and the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment’, says Jacek Białas, lawyer for the Helsinki Foundation, who prepared the statement and participated in the proceedings. ‘Human rights violations are common in Belarus, in particular in prisons’ adds Mr Białas.
Having heard the appeal, the Court of Appeal in Warsaw abrogated the decision on legal admissibility of extradition and remanded the case to the Circuit Court in Warsaw for reconsideration.
On 14 November 2013, after questioning the witnesses in the case, the Circuit Court issued a decision on the legal inadmissibility of extradition. The prosecutor filed a motion with the Court seeking to block the handing over of the oppositionist to the Belarusian authorities.
The judgment is not yet final.