The High Court in England and Wales has upheld a decision to refuse to extradite British national Frank Gambrah, following a request from the Government of Ghana that he return to stand trial for murder.
The Court held the extradition, if carried out, would result in inhuman or degrading punishment, on account of Mr Gambrah’s impaired mental health and evidence of the appalling state of mental health care in Ghanaian prisons, as well as Ghana generally.
Medical experts have reported that Mr Gambrah, who is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, would experience “unbearable torture” if returned into custody in Ghana. A psychiatrist at the Kintampo Health Research Centre in Ghana also provided evidence that there is practically no provision for mental health services in Ghanian prisons and that conditions in outside mental health institutions are dire.
Thus, the Court found that to return Mr Gambrah would be oppressive and a breach of both Mr Gambrah’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights and England’s Extradition Act.
Additionally, although the Government of Ghana had given an assurance that Mr Gambrah (who faces a mandatory death sentence if convicted) would not be executed, the Court was unimpressed by the fact that the Government had not put forward an alternative sentence. The Court found that there would be no real prospect of Mr Gambrah ever being released and he might languish in a state of uncertainty on death row for the rest of his natural life.
Julian Knowles QC of Matrix Chambers and Rachel Barnes of 3 Raymond Buildings represented Mr Gambrah. The Death Penalty Project was granted permission to intervene in the appeal based on their expertise in death penalty litigation in Africa. Submissions were filed in Court on issues pertaining to the imposition and application of the mandatory death penalty, as well as the current legal status of the death penalty in Ghana, including the UNHRC decision on the mandatory death penalty for murder in Ghana (Dexter Johnson v Ghana, Communication No. 2177/2012, 27th March 2014).
Joseph Middleton of Doughty Street Chambers was instructed pro bono, to assist The Death Penalty Project to join the proceedings as Interener.
Read the full judgment
Photo credit: Daniel X. O’Neil (Flickr, Creative Commons), https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/