British citizens are being extradited to foreign countries when the evidence against them is not sufficient to bring charges in the UK. So, should we change our extradition laws?
Extraditing Britons to foreign prisons.
To face rough justice.
Why is it so easy?
Hi. I’m Leon Hawthorne. Extradition isn’t working, so why is the government doing so little to protect UK citizens?
Extradition is the process where people accused of crimes in another country can be deported. It’s a two way path. Britain can ask other countries to extradite suspects to us. And those countries can do the same.
The problem is: the system is uneven and fails to safeguard the basic rights of British citizens.
The Extradition Act of 2003 is the principal law on the subject. It encompasses an extradition treaty with the United States, the European Arrest Warrant and extradition agreements with other countries.
The treaty between the US and UK was agreed at the height of the War on Terror. Tony Blair bent over backwards to appease the American desire for easy extradition of alleged al Qaeda terrorists. However, the treaty terms apply to all of us.
US authorities need only show a “reasonable basis” for believing a person was involved in a crime. This is a much lower threshold than that required by the Crown Prosecution Service to charge someone.
Think about that. The British Government sends its citizens, in chains, to prisons, thousands of miles away from their families, on evidence that is insufficient to charge them with a crime at home.
Also, we extradite people when the alleged crimes relate to events that took place in the UK, like computer hacking, which could be prosecuted here.
But it’s not the same the other way around. The American Constitution better protects its citizens. That’s why we extradite seven times as many people as they do.
The European Arrest Warrant is another beauty. It ensures an arrest warrant issued anywhere in the EU will be executed elsewhere. Supporters say it’s quick, efficient and simple.
More than a thousand people are extradited from Britain, each year, to other EU states on this basis. The vast majority – 95% – are not British citizens.
I think it’s fine to have different extradition rules for citizens and non-citizens. We can do it, post Brexit. But it’s time to reform the extradition law, altogether.
Rip up the US treaty and scrap the European Arrest Warrant. We need to better protect British citizens and those lawfully residing here.
Foreign prosecutors must meet the same evidentiary criteria as required by the Crown Prosecution Service to charge a suspect.
If crimes can be prosecuted in the UK, we should never extradite.
Extradition should only cover serious offences attracting prison sentences greater than five years; and not many trivial offences, as now.
UK citizens must be given Legal Aid abroad, to hire adequate defence lawyers.
Also, the sentence faced, if convicted abroad should not be disproportionate to the sentence in the UK. None of these ridiculous 100-year prison sentences the Americans like to dole out.
As Home Secretary, Theresa May blocked one high profile extradition and ordered a review of the procedures. As Prime Minister, now is the time to act.
I’m Leon Hawthorne. Thanks for watching.