On 19 of October 2021, the case of Ismail Sanchez-Sanchez, a Mexican national, who’s case is currently on appeal at the European Court of Human Rights (‘ECtHR’) and is detained in the UK facing extradition to the US, was transferred from the ECtHR’s Chamber to its Grand Chamber.
Mr. Sanchez, who has been detained in the UK since 2018, is wanted in the US on charges of drug dealing and trafficking, and if convicted, could be given a term of life imprisonment.
Mr. Sanchez’s appeal against extradition was heard by the UK High Court in February 2020, where he argued that extradition to the US would constitute a breach of his article 3 rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, the prohibition on inhuman and degrading treatment, because he faced a real risk of life imprisonment without the possibility of release on parole.
The Court rejected Mr. Sanchez’s article 3 argument, considering itself bound by the House of Lords judgment in R (on the application of Harkins) v Secretary of State for the Home Department 2014, which held that the test for whether a sentence was “grossly disproportionate”, and therefore a breach of article 3, would only be met on “rare and unique” occasions. Furthermore, and where, as in Sanchez’s case, it is likely that the sentence would be irreducible, the court held that this did not amount to a conclusive breach of article 3 where national law provided a possibility of review, with a view to commutation, remission, termination, or conditional release.
The case is now pending a hearing before the ECtHR.