A District Judge was wrong to discharge the extradition of a single mother-of-five to Ireland, where she faced charges of facilitating illegal immigration, on the basis of Article 8 ECHR.
Background and First Instance Judgment
The Respondent had been arrested in Ireland in 2012 after she had been found in charge of a vehicle containing Albanian men seeking to enter Ireland illegally from France by sea.
The Respondent admitted that she had been paid to smuggle the men into Ireland. She was released pending charge and gave the Irish authorities an address in the UK. She then left Ireland and was unable to be located three months later when charges were issued.
She was subsequently detected in 2014 when flying into the UK. A European Arrest Warrant was issued for her to face trial in Ireland. By this time, the Respondent had mothered a five-month-old baby.
A District Judge discharged the extradition request on the basis that:
- She was the single parent of a five-month-old child with no immediate family;
- She had made a full and frank confession in respect of the offence;
- She had given her contact details to the Irish authorities, albeit they had been recorded wrongly; and
- That she had no way of knowing that she was wanted in Ireland.
The District Judge held that, while the public interest in favour of extradition was weighed, the separation of mother and baby would lead to hardship, comprising a disproportionate interference with their rights under Article 8 of the ECHR.
Ireland appealed against this decision, arguing that the offence was extremely serious; the delay in proceedings had been limited; and the District Judge had ignored the fact that the Respondent had been aware, on being released in 2012 that she could have been charged in the future.
Further, it was argued that the District Judge had not considered that the Irish courts would take the best interests of the child into account when sentencing, together with information regarding the Irish prison system, which allowed babies to remain with mothers up to the age of 12 months.
In addition, it was argued that the District Judge had not considered the existence of the Respondent's mother, who could travel from Greece to care for the child.
The appeal was upheld, taking into accounts the arguments raised by Ireland as set out above.
The Appeal Judge ruled that, while her child's welfare was an important factor to consider, the Respondent had not come close to establishing the very serious factors required to outweigh the public interest in ordering her extradition.