Our barristers represent defendants and also act on behalf of prosecution authorities in all forms of Extradition cases brought before the criminal courts, to a sustained level of excellence.

Extradition is the formal process for requesting the surrender of requested persons from one territory to another for the following purposes:

  • to be prosecuted;
  • to be sentenced for an offence for which the person has already been convicted; or
  • to carry out of a sentence that has already been imposed.

The Extradition Act 2003 provides the domestic legal basis for extradition to and from the EU Member States (including Gibraltar) under the European Arrest Warrant (‘EAW’), and to and from Norway and Iceland based on warrants under the Norway/Iceland Surrender Agreement (‘SAW’). It also provides the domestic legal basis for all extradition requests received by the UK from other countries. Extradition requests made by the UK to non-EU countries are not covered by statute except for limited provisions.

With regards to extradition from the UK, the CPS conducts extradition proceedings on behalf of foreign authorities (EAWs/SAWs) and states (non-EAW countries) for requested persons arrested in England & Wales.

For extradition to the UK from the EU Member States, EAWs are issued by an appropriate judge on application by or on behalf of any CPS prosecutor. These EAWs are placed on the Schengen Information System (‘SIS II’) by the National Crime Agency (‘NCA’) and are circulated as (Article 26) alerts across the EU.

Although the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, the EAW will remain available during the transition period (until 31 December 2020).

For extradition to the UK from outside of the EU, extradition requests are prepared by CPS prosecutors in a Central Casework Division (‘CCD’), most commonly by the International Justice and Organised Crime Division (‘IJOCD’). These extradition requests are then issued by the Home Office and transmitted overseas by the Home Office via the diplomatic channel.

Interpol Red Notices (or Diffusions) may be sought, to seek the arrest of requested persons outside the EU. CCDs also authorise these. Where Red Notices are used, they must be followed by a full extradition request if the requested person is arrested.

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    Extradition, in international law, the process by which one state, upon the request of another, effected the return of a person for trial for a crime punishable by the laws of the requesting state and committed outside the country of refuge. Extraditable persons include those charged with a crime but not yet tried, those tried and convicted who have escaped custody, and those convicted in absentia. The request distinguishes extradition from other measures—such as banishment, expulsion, and deportation—which also result in the forcible removal of undesirable persons.

    According to the principle of territoriality of criminal law, states do not apply their penal laws to acts committed outside their boundaries except in the protection of special national interests. In helping to suppress crime, however, states generally have been willing to cooperate in bringing fugitives to justice.

    Extradition is regulated within countries by extradition acts and between countries by diplomatic treaties. The first act providing for extradition was adopted in 1833 by Belgium, which also passed the first law on the right to asylum. Extradition acts specify the extraditable crimes, clarify extradition procedures and safeguards, and stipulate the relationship between the act and international treaties. National laws differ significantly regarding the relationship between extradition acts and treaties.

    In the United States, extradition may be granted only pursuant to a treaty and only if Congress has not legislated to the contrary, a situation that also exists in Britain, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

    Germany and Switzerland extradite without a formal convention in cases where their governments and the requesting state have exchanged declarations of reciprocity.

    Although there has been a long-standing trend toward denying extradition requests in the absence of a binding international obligation, criminals at large are sometimes surrendered by states based on municipal law, or as an act of goodwill. Nevertheless, countries that do not have extradition agreements with certain other countries (or concerning certain types of offence) have been considered safe havens for criminals on the run.

    Some principles of extradition are common to many countries. For example, many states decline any obligation to surrender their nationals; indeed, the constitutions of Slovenia and, until 1997, Colombia prohibited the extradition of their citizens.

    In Argentina, Britain, and the United States, nationals may be extradited if the governing extradition treaty authorises it. Another common principle is double criminality, which stipulates that the alleged crime for which extradition is being sought must be criminal in both the demanding and the requested countries. Under the principle of specificity, the demanding state can prosecute the extraditee only for the offence for which the extradition was granted and may not extradite the detainee to a third country for crimes committed before the initial extradition. Although states have recognised certain exceptions to this principle—and some rules allow the extraditee to waive it—it is critical to the exercise of the right of asylum. If the demanding state were permitted to try an extraditee for any offence that suited its purposes (e.g., for a political crime), the right of asylum would suffer under both national and international law.

    One of the most controversial issues relating to extradition is the exception for most political offences, a standard clause in most extradition laws and treaties that provides the requested state with the right to refuse extradition for political crimes. Although this exception arguably has acquired the status of a general principle of law, its practical application is far from settled. The evolution of international law and the development of a nearly universal consensus condemning certain forms of criminal conduct have restricted the principle’s scope so that it now excludes the most heinous of international crimes—e.g., genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Apart from these and a few other cases, however, there is very little agreement on what constitutes a political crime, and states can thus exercise considerable discretion in applying the political offence exception.

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