1. A treaty between the UK and Libya on the transfer
of prisoners was signed on 17 November 2008 and laid before Parliament
on 27 January 2009.
We decided that it potentially raised human rights concerns and
wrote to the Secretary of State for Justice on 3 March indicating
that we intended to scrutinise the treaty and requesting that
ratification be delayed until the end of April, so that we could
publish a substantive report.
The Secretary of State replied on 12 March to say that he would
delay ratification only until the Easter recess because "a
delay beyond early April is likely to lead to serious questions
on the part of Libya in regards to our willingness to conclude
[this and three other judicial cooperation] agreements".
2. We sent questions about the treaty to the Secretary
of State on 17 March and he replied on 27 March.
Our correspondence is published with this report. We are grateful
for the speed with which the Secretary of State replied but regret
that we have been unable to publish a substantive report on the
treaty before Easter and, therefore, before ratification. We
note that the Secretary of State cited exceptional reasons why
ratification of the treaty could not be delayed until we had been
able fully to scrutinise the treaty. In our view, when a select
committee states that it intends to scrutinise a treaty, ratification
should be delayed until the committee's inquiry has concluded.
We make some further comments about parliamentary scrutiny of
treaties in our second report on the UN Convention on the Rights
of Persons with Disabilities.
3. Although we have been unable to publish a substantive
report on the treaty before ratification, we draw the Government's
attention to an error in the Secretary of State's letter to us
of 27 March. In his answer to our question six, Mr Straw states
that a deportation order for a prisoner being transferred to Libya
"would be subject to appeal in the normal way". This
is incorrect: although judicial review is available, there is
no right of appeal against such orders by foreign prisoners.
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Twelfth Report, 2008-09, UN Convention on the Rights of Persons
with Disabilities, HL Paper 71, HC 398, paragraphs 14-18. Back
Section 35 of the UK Borders Act 2007. Back