Britain’s human rights laws were widely mocked today after judges in London said two Romanian criminals cannot be extradited because prison cells in their home country are too small.
The High Court judges ruled that the felons would live in a space of two meters squared if they returned to Romania. This contravenes rules set down by the European Court of Human Rights which says prisoners must be allowed to live in a personal space of about three meters squared.
The judges – Lord Justice Irwin and Mr Justice Collins – said they must have an assurance that the men would have more space before granting the extradition request.
The Romanian criminals are Ionel-Remus Grecu, 42, and Cosmin-Ionut Bagarea, 39.
Grecu, 42, fled to Britain to avoid a prison sentence for membership of a violent burglary gang in Romania. He was arrested in the UK in February 2016. In September 2016, at public expense, he appealed against an extradition order.
Bagarea, 39, was given a suspended prison sentence in Romania in January 2012 for growing cannabis. He breached the terms of his sentence and fled to the UK where he was arrested in September 2016. He is also appealing against extradition at public expense.
Lord Justice Irwin said lawyers for the two men argued that the lack of personal space would breach Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
He acknowleged it would be ‘highly undesirable if extradition to Romania stalls’.
The British government recently abandoned plans for the UK to quit the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights – which is not part of the European Union – until Brexit negotiations are completed.
The court is therefore expected to have jurisdiction in the UK until 2022.