Prisoner Transfer Treaty with Libya - Human Rights Joint Committee Contents

1  Report

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.[1] 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.[2] 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".[3]

2. We sent questions about the treaty to the Secretary of State on 17 March and he replied on 27 March.[4] 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.[5]

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.[6]

1   Cm 7540 Back

2   Page 5 Back

3   Page 6 Back

4   Page 6 Back

5   Twelfth Report, 2008-09, UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, HL Paper 71, HC 398, paragraphs 14-18. Back

6   Section 35 of the UK Borders Act 2007. Back

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Prepared 15 April 2009