CJEU - C-182/15 / Judgment Aleksei Petruhhin v. Latvijas Republikas Ģenerālprokuratūra

Key facts of the case:

Reference for a preliminary ruling — Citizenship of the Union — Extradition to a third State of a national of a Member State who has exercised his right to freedom of movement — Scope of EU law — Protection of a Member State’s nationals against extradition — No protection for nationals of the other Member States — Restriction of freedom of movement — Justification based on the prevention of impunity — Proportionality — Verification of the guarantees provided for in Article 19 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union

Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:

...the Court (Grand Chamber) hereby rules:

  1. Article 18 TFEU and Article 21 TFEU must be interpreted as meaning that, when a Member State to which a Union citizen, a national of another Member State, has moved receives an extradition request from a third State with which the first Member State has concluded an extradition agreement, it must inform the Member State of which the citizen in question is a national and, should that Member State so request, surrender that citizen to it, in accordance with the provisions of Council Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA of 13 June 2002 on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States, as amended by Council Framework Decision 2009/299/JHA of 26 February 2009, provided that that Member State has jurisdiction, pursuant to its national law, to prosecute that person for offences committed outside its national territory.
  2. Where a Member State receives a request from a third State seeking the extradition of a national of another Member State, that first Member State must verify that the extradition will not prejudice the rights referred to in Article 19 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
Paragraphs referring to EU Charter (original language): 
  1. By its third question, the referring court asks in essence whether, where the requested Member State intends to extradite a national of another Member State at the request of a third State, that first Member State must verify that the extradition will not prejudice the rights referred to in Article 19 of the Charter and, as the case may be, which criteria must be taken into account for the purposes of that verification.
  2. As is apparent from the answer to the first two questions, the decision of a Member State to extradite a Union citizen, in a situation such as that of the main proceedings, comes within the scope of Article 18 TFEU and Article 21 TFEU and, therefore, of EU law for the purposes of Article 51(1) of the Charter (see, to that effect, by analogy, judgment of 26 February 2013 in Åkerberg Fransson, C‑617/10, EU:C:2013:105, paragraphs 25 to 27).
  3. It follows that the provisions of the Charter and in particular Article 19 thereof are applicable to such a decision.
  4. Under Article 19 of the Charter, no one may be removed, expelled or extradited to a State where there is a serious risk that he or she would be subjected to the death penalty, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  5. In order to assess whether that provision has been infringed, the referring court asks, in particular, whether a Member State may simply check that the requesting State is a party to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, signed in Rome on 4 November 1950, which prohibits torture, or whether the situation which obtains in that State must be specifically examined taking into account the Council of Europe’s assessment of it.
  6. In that regard, reference must be made to Article 4 of the Charter which prohibits inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and it should be noted that that prohibition is absolute in that it is closely linked to respect for human dignity, the subject of Article 1 of the Charter (see judgment of 5 April 2016 in Aranyosi and Căldăraru, C‑404/15 and C‑659/15 PPU, EU:C:2016:198, paragraph 85).
  7. The existence of declarations and accession to international treaties guaranteeing respect for fundamental rights in principle are not in themselves sufficient to ensure adequate protection against the risk of ill-treatment where reliable sources have reported practices resorted to or tolerated by the authorities which are manifestly contrary to the principles of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (‘ECtHR’) of 28 February 2008 in Saadi v. Italy, CE:ECHR:2008:0228JUD003720106, § 147).
  8. It follows that, in so far as the competent authority of the requested Member State is in possession of evidence of a real risk of inhuman or degrading treatment of individuals in the requesting third State, it is bound to assess the existence of that risk when it is called upon to decide on the extradition of a person to that State (see, to that effect, as regards Article 4 of the Charter, judgment of 5 April 2016 in Aranyosi and Căldăraru, C‑404/15 and C‑659/15 PPU, EU:C:2016:198, paragraph 88).
  9. To that end, the competent authority of the requested Member State must rely on information that is objective, reliable, specific and properly updated. That information may be obtained from, inter alia, judgments of international courts, such as judgments of the ECtHR, judgments of courts of the requesting third State, and also decisions, reports and other documents produced by bodies of the Council of Europe or under the aegis of the United Nations (see, to that effect, judgment of 5 April 2016 in Aranyosi and Căldăraru, C‑404/15 and C‑659/15 PPU, EU:C:2016:198, paragraph 89).
  10. The answer to the third question is, therefore, that where a Member State receives a request from a third State seeking the extradition of a national of another Member State, that first Member State must verify that the extradition will not prejudice the rights referred to in Article 19 of the Charter.