7 Other Issues |
Provision of information
218. A theme which emerged from the evidence provided
by those with personal experience of extradition proceedings was
the lack of information provided on the process. Michael Turner
told us that when he asked what would happen when he was returned
to Hungary "nobody would answer the question; whether they
didn't know or whether they didn't want to tell us, I'm not sure."
Once in Hungary, Mr Turner told us that his rights in prison were
only explained "very vaguely."
Deborah Dark also told us that the British authorities were unable
to provide her with information on the EAW request that had been
issued against her as "they were not party to the Schengen
Information System, so therefore they did not have the information."
219. The Police outlined the information required
to be provided by the Extradition Act 2003. When a person is arrested
in an extradition case they are provided with a copy of the warrant
and a notice of their rights and entitlements.
Commander Gibson acknowledged that the Police did have a role
in explaining to the arrested person what would happen to them
next: "that is done either by the arresting officer or, if
not, it should certainly be done by the custody officer when someone
is booked in; they will then be told what court they are going
to and what will happen next." The responsibility also fell
on their legal representatives, who should explain the process
We also discussed the provision of information with the Director
of Public Prosecutions who told us that he was not against the
Crown Prosecution Service providing any further information as
necessary, but suggested that "it is probably right that
this is the function of the police."
220. The Director of Public Prosecutions noted that
there were initiatives to standardise the information provided
to individuals across the EU involved in criminal proceedings,
which is one of the initiatives set out in the EU Roadmap on procedural
rights. The second
measure set out in the Roadmap would place on the statute book
the information on rights and charges that a defendant would be
entitled to receive:
"The suspect or defendant is likely to know
very little about his/her rights. A person that is suspected of
a crime should get information on his/her basic rights in writing,
ideally by way of a letter of rights. Furthermore, that person
should also be entitled to receive information about the nature
and cause of the accusation against him or her. The right to information
should also include access to the file for the individual concerned."
221. The information we received from the Police
on the information provided to people subject to extradition proceedings
has shown that enough information is provided on proceedings within
the UK, particularly given that the requirements mirror those
in a domestic case. However, little information is provided about
the legal process in other EU states. The
Government should standardise the information received by those
subject to extradition to ensure they receive sufficient, accurate
information on the extradition process and their rights in the
country to which they will be extradited.
Extradition and asylum
222. The submission of the Immigration Law Practitioners
Association (ILPA) raised a number of issues in relation to the
human rights of those persons who are subject to extradition proceedings
who are also subject to immigration control.
In particular, ILPA raised concerns that a number of persons have
had their refugee status cancelled while outside the United Kingdom,
"where deprivation appears based on charges that founded
the extradition, of which they have been acquitted." This
can leave the person stranded outside the UK, unable to return
to appeal against the revocation of their refugee status. ILPA
argued that this raised issues in relation to the right to family
life (Article 8 EHCR), particularly where that person has family
remaining in the UK. ILPA also raised concerns that a person subject
to extradition who is also subject to immigration control may
be at risk of refoulement
to a country where their human rights could be at risk. ILPA concluded
that "extradition procedures fail to provide protection against
breaches of human rights that arise when persons subject to extradition
orders are, or become persons subject to immigration control."
223. We raised these concerns with other witnesses.
Liberty also expressed concern over these issue, both in relation
to the possibility of unfair extradition and that the UK's obligations
under the Refugee Convention may be bypassed when a claimants
refugee status is reversed while they are out of the country.
It argued that the "legal root of the problem" lay in
the Extradition Act, which had a statutory loophole which "effectively
allows the UK Government to defer its determination of a refugee
claim under the Refugee Convention."
JUSTICE agreed that "immigration powers of deportation and
removal should not be used in order to circumvent the procedural
guarantees available in extradition proceedings."
224. We did not explore the issue of immigration
control and extradition in detail during this inquiry, and we
may wish to follow-up this issue in more detail in future. It
would be helpful if the Government were to provide details of
their procedures in relation to extradition of persons subject
to immigration control and the precautions they take to ensure
that these persons' rights are not infringed through either revoking
their refugee status while they are outside the UK, or through
their refoulement to another country.
225. The Committee received a submission from REDRESS
on the issue of the location of trials in relation to international
crimes allegedly committed abroad.
REDRESS argued that where suspects of crimes such as genocide
or crimes against humanity reside in the UK, trials should be
held in the United Kingdom: "to rely solely on extradition
is wrong both in principle and practice, and can lead to serious
anomalies where known suspects live here for years without being
held accountable anywhere, even when the UK has jurisdiction over
the alleged offence(s)." REDRESS argued that despite the
UK improving legislation to make it possible to prosecute such
crimes, "the policy appears to be to place excessive reliance
on extradition". The submission concluded that the Government
should look to prosecute cases in the United Kingdom, particularly
where extradition has already failed and in order to ensure that
the UK does not become "a de facto safe haven where suspects
can continue living here for years without being brought to trial."
The submission refers to the example of four Rwandan men accused
of genocide. Following the barring of extradition on human rights
grounds with the defendants arguing they would not receive a fair
trial in Rwanda, the UK has not proceeded with prosecution.
226. We wrote to the Secretary of State for Justice
on this issue. He noted that the "over-riding consideration"
was that there was no impunity for the most serious international
crimes. However, this did not mean that the UK should prosecute
in the first instance as "it would be counter-productive
for the UK to seek to be the policeman of the world." He
noted that there may be instances where extradition was preferable
to ensure the person stood trial in the country where the alleged
offence took place. Evidence could be located in this country
and extradition may mean that the victims and relatives of victims
were able to see "justice being done first hand."
227. He noted that the International Criminal Court
Act 2001 provided the UK with the power to prosecute nationals
and residents for war crimes and crimes against humanity, subject
to a two-stage test exercised by the CPS for all prosecution decisions:
whether there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable prospect
of a successful prosecution and whether prosecution would be in
the public interest.
should not be the only method for dealing with suspects of crimes
against humanity: we urge the CPS to consider carefully whether
such suspects can be tried in the United Kingdom before extradition
proceedings are initiated.
221 Q 41 Back
Q 44 Back
Q 89 Back
Q 94 Back
Q 193 Back
OJ C295 (30 November 2009) Back
EXT 5 Back
The principle of nonrefoulement concerns the protection of refugees
from return to a country in which their human rights would be
at risk. Back
EXT 5 Back
EXT 24 Back
EXT 20 Back
EXT 8 Back
EXT 8 Back
EXT 26 Back