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Finland / Supreme Court / KKO:2020:25, R2020/117

Supreme Court decision regarding a request for surrender

Deciding Body type:
National Court/Tribunal
Deciding Body:
Supreme Court
Decision date:
Key facts of the case:
The case concerned a request for surrender of a Romanian national (A) to Romania where A was to serve a four-year prison sentence. The district court of Helsinki had denied the request. The public prosecutor appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court applied Act 1286/2003 on Surrender Procedures between Finland and Other EU Member States, which implements Council Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA on the European Arrest Warrant. The court also referred to the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR; Muršić v Croatia) and the CJEU (C-128/18 Dorobantu) in which the courts interpret the prohibition of torture or inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.
Key legal question raised by the Court:
Section 5(1)(6) of the Act on Surrender Procedures provides for a list of mandatory grounds for refusal, among them reasonable grounds to suspect that the requested person is in danger of being subject to torture or other treatment violating human dignity. The Supreme Court noted that while section 5(1)(6) is not explicitly based on the grounds for refusal as prescribed in Articles 3 and 4 of the Framework Decision, the said provision can be derived from the obligation to respect fundamental rights and human rights binding on Finland. The key legal question in this case was whether the request for surrender should be denied pursuant to section 5(1)(6) and because of the inadequate prison conditions in Romania.
Outcome of the case:

According to information provided by the Romanian prison authorities, it was highly likely that A would serve a major part of the four-year sentence in a semi-open prison where the personal space allocated to a detainee is at least two square metres. The Supreme Court noted that the ECtHR has in the case of Muršić confirmed the standard of three square metres per detainee in multi-occupancy accommodation as the relevant minimum standard under Article 3 of the ECHR. The CJEU has assessed the minimum standards for prison conditions, following the guidelines set by the ECtHR. The Supreme Court concluded that in A’s case there was a strong presumption of a violation of Article 3 of the ECHR and Article 4 of the Charter. Such a presumption can be rebutted only if the reductions in the required minimum personal space of three square metres are short, occasional and minor and the detainee has sufficient freedom of movement outside the cell. These criteria must be met cumulatively. Both the ECtHR and the CJEU have held that in cases where a detainee has less than three square metres of personal space, a period of detention around 20 to 27 days cannot be regarded as short, occasional and minor. The fact that a detainee has a possibility to

spend part of the day outside the overcrowded cell does not change the outcome of the assessment. The Supreme Court denied the request for surrender.

17. Korkein oikeus toteaa, että selvityksen mukainen kolme neliömetriä alittava henkilökohtainen tila niin sanotussa puoliavoimessa järjestelmässä eli A:n kohdalla Brailan vankilassa synnyttää ihmisoikeustuomioistuimen oikeuskäytännön perusteella vahvan olettaman ihmisoikeussopimuksen 3 artiklan loukkauksesta ja vastaavasti olettaman Euroopan unionin perusoikeuskirjan 4 artiklan loukkauksesta (tuomio Muršić v. Kroatia, kohta 137 ja tuomio Dorobantu, 71–77 kohdat).