The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) today publishes its report on the Human Rights implications of UK extradition policy.
The committee concludes that the current statutory framework does not provide effective protection for human rights. The rights most often relevant to extradition are: prohibition of torture; fair trial; liberty and security; private and family life; and prohibition of discrimination. The committee calls on the Government to spell out detailed safeguards in the statutory framework.
The committee recommends that Parliament should be asked to commence the "most appropriate forum" safeguard in the Police and Criminal Justice Act 2006 and that a requirement for the requesting country to show a prima facie case or similarly robust evidential threshold should be introduced in extradition cases.
The most appropriate forum safeguard would require the judge to consider whether it is in the interests of justice for the individual to be tried in the requesting country - and to refuse the extradition request if it is not. Including a requirement to show a prima facie case would mean that a court could refuse extradition if it was not satisfied that a requesting country had shown that the requested person had a case to answer.
The committee also calls for:
- the Government to seek renegotiation of the European Arrest Warrant to correct a number of serious problems
- a proportionality principle to be added to ensure that the human rights implications of extradition under the European Arrest Warrant are not disproportionate to the alleged crime
- the Government to ensure that the human rights bar to extradition is effective in protecting the rights of extradited persons in practice as well as in law, in particular where a person is being extradited to another EU country
The report also calls on the Government to:
- review the provision of legal representation: the present provision for persons subject to extradition is inadequate
- on the forthcoming European Investigation Order (EIO), ensure the inclusion of a provision to allow the refusal of an EIO on human rights grounds, a provision for dual criminality, and a proportionality safeguard
- ensure that other EU Member States do not use the European Arrest Warrant for the purposes of requesting a person for investigation rather than to stand trial.
The committee also concludes that the power of the Secretary of State to refuse extradition to non-EU countries should not be extended. The powers of the judge in an extradition case should instead ensure adequate protection of rights.
Dr Hywel Francis MP, the Chair of the Committee, said:
"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. 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."
The articles of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) that are most often engaged by extradition cases are:
- Article 3, Prohibition of torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment.
- Article 5, right to liberty and security.
- Article 6, right to a fair trial.
- Article 8, right to respect for private and family life.
- Article 14, prohibition of discrimination.
Article 3 is an absolute, non-derogable right. Articles 5 and 6 are rights which are qualified only in times of war or a public emergency when they may be subject to limited derogation. Article 8 is a qualified right which allows for some interference where it is in accordance with the law and proportionate to a legitimate aim. Article 14 can only be invoked in conjunction with another Convention right.