In the groundbreaking decision Aranyosi and Căldăraru, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) recognised that in exceptional circumstances, the risk of a possible breach of the right not to suffer inhuman or degrading treatments may qualify as a ground to suspend a European arrest warrant (EAW) and, ultimately, bring the surrender procedure to an end. In this judgment (and in the subsequent decision in LM, dealing with the right to a fair trial), the Court has devised a two-tier test to assess the real risk of a violation of fundamental rights after surrender. Yet the Court has left significant discretion to executing authorities in conducting their assessment of risk, thus raising questions as to how the two-tier test would be implemented at the national level. To address some of these questions, this article examines the practice of the executing authority for the Netherlands (the District Court of Amsterdam) concerning decisions on EAWs that may entail a real risk for fundamental rights. To do so, we analyse the judicial reasoning of decisions issued between June 2016 and June 2020 which implement the tests designed by the CJEU in Aranyosi and LM. The results of this analysis indicate that the Court of Amsterdam has gradually shifted the emphasis from mutual trust to fundamental rights. However, the Dutch court resists automaticity and scrutinises the relevance of any information attentively. This attitude indicates a readiness to engage in a dialogue with the issuing authorities together with resistance to indulge in ‘blind trust’.
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