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

Key facts of the case:

Request for a preliminary ruling — Citizenship of the European Union — First paragraph of Article 18 TFEU and Article 21(1) TFEU — Request for the extradition to Russia of a national of one Member State present on the territory of another Member State — Refusal of a Member State to extradite its own nationals — Difference in treatment on the ground of nationality — Whether justified — Combating impunity — Verification of the guarantees provided for in Article 19(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union

Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:

  1. In the light of all of the foregoing consideration, I propose that the questions submitted by the Augstākā tiesa (Supreme Court, Latvia) should be answered as follows:

    In circumstances such as those of the main proceedings, the first paragraph of Article 18 TFEU and Article 21(1) TFEU should be interpreted as meaning that they do not require that a national of a Member State present on the territory of another Member State who is the subject of an extradition request by a third State should benefit from the same rule as that which protects the nationals of that other Member State against extradition.

    In order to ensure respect for Article 19(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union in the individual circumstances of the person who is the subject of an extradition request, the judicial authority of the requested Member State, when faced with evidence of the existence of deficiencies which may be systemic or generalised, or which may affect certain groups of people that is objective, reliable, specific and properly updated, is bound to determine whether, in the particular circumstances of the case, there are substantial grounds to believe that, following his extradition to the requesting third State, that citizen of the Union will run a real risk of being subject in that State to inhuman or degrading treatment, within the meaning of that provision.

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: 
  1. According to Article 19(2) 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’.
  2. The explanations relating to the Charter of Fundamental Rights (27) state that Article 19(2) ‘incorporates the relevant case-law from the European Court of Human Rights regarding Article 3 of the [European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, signed at Rome on 4 November 1950 (28)]’. (29)
  3. Since the situation of a national of a Member State who, like Mr Petruhhin, has exercised his freedom to move and reside in the territory of another Member State, falls, as we have seen earlier, within the scope of EU law, I am of the view that Article 19(2) of the Charter may apply in such a situation.
  4. Thus, a court of a Member State which receives a request relating to the extradition of a national of another Member State who has exercised rights conferred by Article 21(1) TFEU is required to verify the guarantees provided for in Article 19(2) of the Charter.
  5. As to what form that verification must take, it is appropriate, in accordance with the explanations in respect of Article 19(2) of the charter, to refer to the relevant case-law of the European Court of Human Rights on Article 3 of the ECHR.
  1. The Court held in that judgment, in particular, with regard to Article 4 of the Charter, that ‘in order to ensure respect for [that article] in the individual circumstances of the person who is the subject of the European arrest warrant, the executing judicial authority, when faced with evidence of the existence of [deficiencies which may be systemic or generalised, or which may affect certain groups of people] that is objective, reliable, specific and properly updated, is bound to determine whether, in the particular circumstances of the case, there are substantial grounds to believe that, following surrender of that person to the issuing Member State, he will run a real risk of being subject in that Member State to inhuman or degrading treatment, within the meaning of [that article]’. (36)
  2. To my mind, the methodology thus defined by the Court can be transposed to a situation in which, following a request for the extradition of a citizen of the Union issued by a third country, the judicial authority of the requested Member State ascertains whether the guarantees laid down in Article 19(2) of the Charter are respected.