Legal Analysis

ECHR Aswat v the United Kingdom

Published: (Last updated: )

The applicant challenged his extradition from the UK to the US, where he is accused of various terrorism offences, on the basis that this would violate his rights under Article 3 ECHR.

In April 2012, the ECtHR held that conditions in ADX Florence (the super-max prison where the applicant would be held if convicted) did not amount to a breach of Article 3 and that three other applicants in the same case should be extradited (see Babar Ahmad and others v United Kingdom). However, the applicant suffers from severe mental health problems including paranoid schizophrenia which had resulted in his transfer from prison to a secure psychiatric hospital, and the Court adjourned his case pending further submissions.

The applicant argued that conditions in ADX Florence were likely to have a much greater impact on him on account of his mental illness. The court agreed, distinguishing this case solely on the basis of the severity of the applicant’s mental condition, and holding that there was a real risk that his extradition to a different and potentially more hostile prison environment in the United States would result in a significant deterioration in his mental and physical health and that it would therefore breach Article 3 ECHR.

The court’s judgment is available here.