Extradition: UK law and practice - Select Committee on Extradition Law Contents



291.  In the course of evidence a number of changes to practice were suggested that could help to lessen the impact of extradition on Requested People. These were things that would either not require changes to the law or simply require greater use of existing provisions. There are some other measures developed at EU level which would also lessen the impact of extradition which the UK has not opted in to (see Appendix 6).

Video evidence

292.  Some witnesses suggested that greater use could be made of technology to question Requested People prior to their extradition. The Office of the Chief Magistrate said:

    "A more imaginative, and more productive, approach than legislative change is to increase mutual international cooperation by a more extensive use of modern technology … There have been numerous cases where evidence from abroad has been received by way of Skype … We see no reason in principle why these procedures should not be followed more commonly in cases of extradition from the United Kingdom."[308]

293.  Jodie Blackstock echoed this, "Any procedural hearing, short of trial, where actual evidence needs to be taken, in my view, could be considered through video link".[309]

294.  In discussing amendments to the 2003 Act, the Home Secretary noted that the Government had "made arrangements in relation to things such as video links on evidence."[310] Section 21B of the Act enables a Requested Person to request contact with representatives of the Issuing State, including by video link.[311]

295.  Although Section 21B is now in force, the Government must also make sure it is technically possible. Christopher Tappin, whose extradition to the US pre-dated this provision (see Appendix 5), told us, "Witnesses from the UK are not allowed to give evidence via a video link to the US. The reason given by the US Department of Justice is 'They do not have the technology'."[312]

Return on bail

296.  Another process which would lessen the impact of extradition in EAW cases would be making greater use of temporary transfer powers. The Home Secretary confirmed that "if the individual subject to the European Arrest Warrant consents, they can be taken temporarily to give evidence and then brought back to the UK."[313] This process could occur prior to formal extradition hearings. Alternatively, under European Supervision Order provisions,[314] a person could be subject to bail conditions imposed by the Issuing State pending trial.

297.  Anand Doobay said, "the ideal scenario would be that in the pre­trial phase you would remain on bail in your home country, making your appearances by video link and then only attending the trial when you needed to in person."[315] Such a scenario might avoid experiences like that of the Dunhams where they spent over four months on bail in the US.[316]

Transfer of sentences

298.  Some witnesses said that greater use should be made of arrangements to transfer extradited people back to the UK to serve their sentences.[317]

299.  Such arrangements are also already possible. In EAW cases the Framework Decision on Prisoner Transfer allows for this.[318] Olivier Tell of the European Commission said the powers should be used "so that the sentence is executed in the habitual residence of that person in order to ensure social rehabilitation."[319]

300.  The Government also said that the Framework Decision should be "used to its fullest extent so that British citizens extradited and convicted can be returned to serve their sentence here."[320]

301.  This is also possible in Part 2 cases. Amy Jeffress described the position in relation to extradition to the US:

    "there is a process under which that can be accomplished. In fact, in many recent cases that has happened. Normally the person has to serve at least a portion of their sentence in the United States, so that the arrangements can be made."[321]

302.  In some countries, the concept of returning extradited people to serve their sentences in their home country is deeply rooted. For example, the Netherlands entered the following Declaration to the European Convention on Extradition:

    "Netherlands nationals may be extradited for purposes of prosecution if the requesting State provides a guarantee that the person claimed may be returned to the Netherlands to serve his sentence there if, following his extradition, a custodial sentence other than a suspended sentence or a measure depriving him of his liberty is imposed upon him".[322]

Information about the extradition process

303.  We heard in evidence that the extradition process could be quite confusing as there is little information provided. Mrs O'Dwyer, said the process was:

    "frightening due to a lack of explanation and information from the Police in the early stages and due to the aggressive attitude displayed by US prosecutors. I was required to find out everything for myself from the internet. We would have appreciated some sort of information leaflet given to us at the same time as the extradition warrant was being briefly wafted in front of our eyes with no explanation given."[323]

304.  Michael Evans agreed and said that because of the lack of information he sent "every client at the beginning of the case not just a standard file-opening letter but a six-page letter … It explains the procedure, the structure of the Extradition Act and what stages the judge will go through, that they have a right of appeal and then how to appeal".[324]

Conditions in transit to Issuing State

305.  A number of submissions came from people who had been extradited. These submissions included descriptions of how they had been treated in transit from the UK to the Issuing State. In some cases, these conditions seem to be excessive given the nature of the crimes concerned and the fact that they affected people yet to be convicted. For example, Paul and Sandra Dunham, a husband and wife extradited to the US (see Appendix 5), described their flight to the US:

    "At this point we were chained up and taken onto the aircraft we each had a US Marshall sat either side of us … During the 10 hour flight we were unlocked once so that we could get a drink but still had one hand chained to the arm rest".[325]

306.  Mr Wolkowicz also gave evidence of his treatment in transit. He described being forced to sit in a seat that was not appropriate to his medical condition and being "hit several times" on the chest in order to force him to move. He said, "they dragged me by force to this armchair. They tied me up there in every possible way."[326]

Other matters


307.  Some witnesses noted the access to medical care people have post-extradition. Jodie Blackstock explained that having an ongoing medical condition was rarely grounds for resisting extradition for a non-British national as "an alien cannot be permitted to remain in the UK to access medical treatment which may be better than that available in the country of his nationality."[327]

308.  Two witnesses also referred to the medical condition of Mr Dunham. Andrea Leadsom MP (in whose constituency the Dunhams live) told us that Mr Dunham had an ongoing heart condition. Whilst in the US he required a new heart monitor. The necessary operation was "estimated to cost at least $20,000 by the time he went in to hospital" but she was informed by the FCO that the UK could not fund this without there being "a reciprocal agreement with the other country, an arrangement we do not have with the United States."[328] Michael Evans said, "As it happens, he has had the operation; the doctors agreed to do it for I think $3,000 to be paid later." However, he criticised the solution relying "on the kindness of individuals".[329]

309.  The FCO, in describing more broadly what support is offered to British nationals held abroad said, "Prisoners Abroad are also able to make payments for certain medical services, to ensure that British Nationals can access these."[330]


310.  Some witnesses said accommodation in the Issuing State could be a problem pre-trial. This was because a Requested Person was unlikely to be granted bail if he or she had no-where to live. Michael Evans referred particularly to the situation in the US:

    "If you are extradited to America and you actually manage to convince a judge to say, 'I will give you bail if you have an address', your average Joe Bloggs is not going to have the money or the wherewithal to find an apartment and pay for it while they are not allowed to work and are restricted to being inside that apartment. Unless you are lucky enough to know somebody who is willing to put you up or willing to go out on a limb for you, you are stuck."[331]

311.  David Bermingham told us this had been his experience and that bail had only been granted once his lawyer said he would accommodate him. He said that in the US:

    "You have to make out a case as to why you should be granted bail. The problem was that we were not US citizens: we did not have green cards or anything like that. We had no social security numbers, we had no place of abode and no means of earning income. We would have failed every one of the tests."[332]

312.  The inherent risk of distress caused by removal from one's place of residence persuades us that there is scope in some cases to make greater use of existing legislation and to improve practices in order to lessen the impact of extradition. We make this recommendation particularly bearing in mind the fact that in most cases Requested People have yet to be found guilty of any crime.

313.  Changes in practice should include: providing better information to Requested People about the process; making greater use of video evidence; making greater use of temporary transfer to the Issuing State pre-extradition and pre-trial release on bail in the UK; and increasing the use of transfer of sentences when appropriate.

314.  We recommend the Government take the necessary steps, such as issuing guidance to the courts and seeking agreements with other countries, to make these changes. Where reciprocal commitments from the UK are required to achieve agreement, these should be given. (Recommendation 15)

315.  In the case of EAWs, the Government and the European Commission should work to establish further guidelines on the execution of EAWs to ensure that they are conducted in the least hostile manner possible. (Recommendation 16)

308   Written evidence from the Office of the Chief Magistrate (EXL0043) Back

309    Q181 (Jodie Blackstock) Back

310    Q192 Back

311   Written evidence from the Home Office (EXL0001) Back

312   Written evidence from Christopher Tappin (EXL0028) Back

313    Q192 Back

314   Council Framework Decision on the application, between Member States of the European Union, of the principle of mutual recognition to decisions on supervision measures as an alternative to provisional detention, 2009/829/JHA Back

315    Q23 (Anand Doobay) Back

316   Written evidence from Paul and Sandra Dunham (EXL0047) Back

317   For example, see written evidence from JUSTICE (EXL0073) Back

318   Council Framework Decision on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to judgments in criminal matters imposing custodial sentences or measures involving deprivation of liberty for the purpose of their enforcement in the European Union, 2008/909/JHA  Back

319    Q223 Back

320   Written evidence from the Home Office (EXL0060) Back

321    Q73 Back

322   Council of Europe, 'List of declarations made with respect to treaty No. 024': http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/ListeDeclarations.asp?NT=024&CM=8&DF=&CL=ENG&VL=1 [accessed 3 March 2015] Back

323   Written evidence from Julia O'Dwyer (EXL0050) Back

324    Q174 (Michael Evans) Back

325   Written evidence from Paul and Sandra Dunham (EXL0047) Back

326    Q262 Back

327   Written evidence from JUSTICE (EXL0073) Back

328   Written evidence from Andrea Leadsom MP (EXL0085) Back

329    Q190 (Michael Evans) Back

330   Written evidence from the FCO (EXL0082) Back

331    Q190 (Michael Evans) Back

332    Q246 Back

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