Select Committee calls for major UK-US extradition reform

By agency reporter
March 30, 2012

The House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee has today (30 March) made an urgent call for a major overhaul of the UK’s extradition arrangements with the US.

A report by the highly influential cross-party committee has urged the Government to act without delay to try and restore public faith in the UK's extradition treaty.

The plights of Gary McKinnon, Richard O’Dwyer and Christopher Tappin amongst others, have fuelled growing concern over the injustice of the current system.

The Home Affairs Select Committee has recommended a series of measures – each of which is supported by Liberty (formerly the National Council for Civil Liberties) as part of its Extradition Watch campaign for fairer extradition laws:

* The treaty should be amended so that the same test applies for extradition from both jurisdictions. Currently the wording implements a “probable cause” test for extradition from the US – but not from the UK.

* The Government should activate the “forum bar” introduced in 2006 but never brought into force. This would allow a UK court to bar extradition if some or all of the alleged conduct took place here, and if it was in the interests of justice to do so.

* A prima facie evidence test, requiring that a basic case be made to a UK court before someone can be sent abroad for trial, should be introduced in the long-run.

* The Home Secretary should immediately publish the evidence provided to the Scott Baker review of extradition laws – the findings of which Liberty rejected as “baffling” in October last year.

Speaking after a packed Extradition Watch public meeting in Sheffield, Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said: “The Home Affairs Select Committee has one of the most important voices in the House of Commons and people all over Britain will welcome this report.

“From South Yorkshire to the Home Counties, ordinary families face the devastation of instant extradition without evidence, common sense or compassion. If an autistic man can be branded a cyber-terrorist and a mother fleeing abuse a kidnapper, who is safe from this madness?

“Liberty has long called for each of the committee's recommendations. No-one should be sent abroad without a basic case tested in a local court and it’s time the Government loosened the straightjacket around our judges to let more cases be tried at home”.

More about Extradition Watch here:


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