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UK extradition rules are unfairly weighted

Government must renegotiate the US treaty, according to a report
Wed Jun 22 2011, 12:35

THE UNFAIRLY WEIGHTED UK extradition treaty with the US needs a thorough reworking, according to a report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) that found that UK citizens, like Gary McKinnon, are not afforded the same legal protection as Americans.

"The committee concludes that the current statutory framework does not provide effective protection for human rights," wrote the group. "The rights most often relevant to extradition are: prohibition of torture; fair trial; liberty and security; private and family life; and prohibition of discrimination."

Because of this the group is asking the UK Government to do more to improve protection for its citizens and specifically their human rights.

"Human rights provisions in the Extradition Act are clearly inadequate. The Government should spell out detailed safeguards in the statutory framework. Parliament should be asked to commence the 'most appropriate forum' safeguard in the Police and Criminal Justice Act 2006 and a requirement to show a prima facie case should be added when a person is requested for extradition," explained Dr Hywel Francis MP, the chair of the committee.

"A most appropriate forum safeguard would require the judge in an extradition case to consider whether it is in the interests of justice for the individual to be tried in the requesting country."

Cases like Gary McKinnon's have really highlighted how unfair the current laws are, and fittingly extraditions to the US are given some attention in the recommendations.

McKinnon faces a very long sentence if he is extradited to the US, and although at times it has looked likely that the UK secretary of state - it doesn't matter which one - would deny the US request, this has never happened.

This should change, according to the report, and the committee urged that judges be granted the power to refuse extradition requests before they end up before the Home Secretary. This would be a significant change, according to at least one commenter quoted in the report, the human rights group Liberty.

"The flaws of the extradition system have also been highlighted by numerous judges whose role in relation to extradition has, in many cases, been confined to a rubber stamp," it is quoted as saying, while the Freedom Association added this, "the national judiciary's role in the process is just to rubber stamp the extradition of a UK citizen, even if it has grave concerns about the case and about the treatment the citizen will receive." µ


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