Changes in recent
years have damaged traditional British protections against unfair – or summary
– extradition. Following the Extradition Act 2003 British residents can be
removed to stand trial in another country under a “fast-track” extradition
system. This means that a British court never gets to consider whether there is
evidence to justify the charge.
This agreement is in place with European Union and certain other countries, based on an assumption that the country seeking extradition will never do so on spurious grounds.
In October 2012 the Home Secretary announced that the Government would introduce reform of our extradition arrangements. Liberty awaits the detail of the proposed legislation to make sure that whatever long overdue changes are introduced they will make sure the process of future extradition is a fair one.
TAKE ACTION We believe fast-track extradition is justice denied. Read about our Extradition Watch campaign for fairer extradition laws.
Case study - Andrew Symeou
Andrew Symeou is a British student who was extradited to Greece
in 2009. He was accused of manslaughter following the tragic death of another
young British man whilst he was on holiday in Greece. Evidence against him
included statements given by two witnesses who say that Greek police officers
pressured them to give false statements, which they retracted immediately after
their release from police custody. Mr Symeou denied the charge and available
evidence strongly indicated that he was innocent, yet a British Court never considered whether
there was a prima facie case against him. Following his extradition Andrew
spent over 10 months in appalling Greek prison conditions In June 2011, Andrew Symeou
was cleared of manslaughter by a Greek jury and returned home to the UK.
Case study – Gary McKinnonGary McKinnon is a British man who has been charged with hacking into the US Pentagon and NASA systems between 1999 and 2002. For ten years Mr McKinnon faced the threat of extradition to the United States of America in order for him to stand trial. McKinnon was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and his lawyers argued, in an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, that because of this, and because the crime was committed on British soil, that he should be tried here in the UK. However the Court refused to order the UK not to extradite him, and McKinnon instead lived for many years with the prospect of facing 60 years in American jail.
The Extradition Act 2003, in implementing the European Arrest Warrant scheme, effectively abolishes dual criminality for extradition requests within the EU in respect of 32 categories of offences listed in the European Framework. This means that for these offences a person sought by an EU country can be extradited even if the alleged offence is not one recognised in the UK.
Belgium have enacted special provision to ensure that extraditions cannot be sought for abortion under the European Framework list category of “murder”, which demonstrates the problems with broad categories covering extraditions between countries with very different notions of what activities should be criminalised.