Monday, June 27 2016

Calls for UK-US extradition treaty to be overhauled

The BBC covers the report published by the Home Affairs Select Committee which calls for the UK-US extradition treaty to be overhauled because of a lack of public faith in current arrangements.

From the BBC:

“British people are losing confidence in the UK's extradition arrangements with the US and major changes are needed "to restore public faith", MPs have said.

“The Commons Home Affairs Select Committee believes it is "easier to extradite a British citizen to the USA than vice versa".

“Public concern had been highlighted by recent cases including that of 65-year-old Christopher Tappin, the MPs said.

“The US says the treaty promotes "justice in both our countries".

“The MPs' recommendations include:

•    Amending the text of the 2003 treaty to ensure the same test applies for extradition from both countries
•    Allowing a judge to decide that a person is tried in the UK in cases where both countries have jurisdiction
•    Introduction of an initial test of someone's guilt

“The MPs said their proposals were not a criticism of the US justice system, but instead acknowledged "the importance of robust extradition arrangements between our two countries".

“The US-UK extradition treaty was designed for the post 9/11 world: allies working hand in glove to bring bad guys swiftly to justice. 

“British judges don't fully test American allegations, but US officials say their own courts, with all their judicial safeguards, look at the evidence before a warrant is slid into the fax machine.

“But some of the most complex and difficult cases judges have dealt with involve people wanted for crimes that allegedly occurred in the UK, such as Babar Ahmad and Gary McKinnon. These raise serious questions about where somebody should be tried. 

“"Such extradition arrangements are now threatened by loss of public confidence in the UK and there is a risk that, with time, that lack of confidence will translate into wider disaffection," the report said.

“Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights is among bodies to have called for a renegotiation of the treaty, amid controversy over a number of cases involving British citizens.”

Keith Vaz MP, chairmen of the Joint Committee on Human Rights has stated that "Evidence to the committee has shown that the current arrangements do not protect the rights of British citizens.

“"The government must remedy this immediately."

The human rights group Liberty, in its submission to the JCHR inquiry into the Human Rights Implications of UK Extradition Policy, stated that “British courts must have the opportunity to determine whether there is sufficient evidence against an individual to warrant their extradition. Before such a significant engagement of a person’s human rights it must be determined whether there is a case to answer.”

The BBC report cites the evidence given by US Ambassador Louis Susman to the committee, arguing that “the extradition treaty was fair, balanced and "promotes the interests of justice in both our countries".”

One of the most high profile cases under the mandate of the treaty is that of Babar Ahmad who has been detained at Long Lartin high security prison for seven years without charge or trial and is awaiting extradition to the US on charges related to terrorism. He is currently awaiting a decision on his final appeal by the European Court of Human Rights against extradition to the US. 

The High Court recently ruled in favour of the BBC in its quest to film an interview with due to the ‘exceptional nature’ of his case.

The full report on the extradition treaty is available to read here.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 23:53

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