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Court: no leave to extradite refugee to Turkey

On 6 April 2016, the Regional Court in Gorzów Wielkopolski heard the application for the extradition of Erdal Gökoğlu to Turkey. Back in his home country Mr Gökoğlu is accused of being a member of an armed group. In Belgium, he obtained a refugee status.

In the oral reasons for the ruling, the court referred to the fact stated in the amicus curiae brief filed by the HFHR, namely that in Belgium Mr Gökoğlu has a refugee status, which constitutes an obstacle to the extradition. The Court took into consideration both the brief filed by HFHR and the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights entered in the case Kavaklioğlu and Others v. Turkey, which was mentioned in the document. Erdal Gökoğlu was one of the applicants in this case and the Court held that Turkish authorities violated his right to life guaranteed by Article 2 of the Convention.

The Regional Court argued that human rights may be violated if the foreigner is extradited to Turkey. In this respect the Court took into account the testimony of a representative of the HFHR, which discussed, among other things, violations of the right to a fair trial in Turkey, the use of torture against detained persons and poor conditions in local prisons.

“Court’s decision in the case of Erdal Gökoğlu is a positive signal for the future. I hope that Polish courts will develop a fixed line of reasoning, according to which the very fact that a refugee is granted a refugee status under the Geneva Convention will be grounds for refusal an application for extradition”, said Jacek Białas, a lawyer of the HFHR who participated in the proceedings.

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