Our motion concerns US-UK extradition terms and follows the conclusions of Sir Menzies Campbell’s report on the treaty recommending the introduction of the ‘forum bar’ to allow judges a greater role in deciding on extradition, and a minor amendment in the actual treaty to afford those arrested in the UK the same legal standard as those arrested in the USA, when it comes to extradition.
There is a growing consensus among both politicians and the public that the current treaty is flawed and we beleive that these small changes will go a long way towards improving our extradition system.
We urgently need signatories, so if you’re a voting rep and are interested in supporting our motion to get to Conference, please email me with your membership number, local party and full name at [email protected]
The full text of the motion follows below:
1. The Extradition Treaty between the UK Government and the Government of the USA was signed at Washington in March 2003 and passed into UK law with the Extradition Act 2003, providing for “more effective cooperation between the two States in the suppression of crime” and a framework for either state to request the extradition of an individual of any nationality.
2. In both the USA and the UK, a judge must be satisfied that there is an objective reason for a suspect’s arrest before issuing a warrant and thus before extradition. In the USA, prosecutors must demonstrate ‘probable cause’, defined as “a reasonable ground for belief of guilt”. In the UK, prosecutors must demonstrate ‘reasonable suspicion’ in order to arrest and extradite an individual.
3. The ‘Forum Bar’, a provision in the Police and Justice Act 2006, would allow a judge to refuse extradition where “a significant part of the conduct alleged to constitute the extradition offence” took place in the UK and it would “not be in the interests of justice for the person to be tried for the offence in the requesting territory”. Despite being passed by Parliament, the Forum Bar has yet to be implemented legally.
4. A report ordered by Nick Clegg and carried out by Sir Menzies Campbell QC in 2012 deals specifically with these issues.
Sir Menzies Campbell QC’s 2012 report concluded that:
1. Implementing the ‘Forum Bar’ would fulfil the responsibility of the British Government to protect the human rights of its citizens at home and abroad.
2. The disparity between US-UK extradition requiring ‘probable cause’ and UK-US extradition requiring ‘reasonable suspicion’ equates to the disadvantaging of UK citizens and the standard required for an extradition by the United Kingdom to the USA should be raised to the same level as the reverse.
3. A change in the Treaty in line with the above terms is necessary for the Government to fulfil its duty to UK citizens, and to restore public confidence in the UK’s extradition arrangements.
1. That the difference in terms of arrest mean that it is easier for a UK citizen to be extradited from the UK to the USA than it is for a USA citizen to be extradited from the USA to the UK.
2. The current Government has an opportunity to review the extradition treaty.
3. Implementing the ‘Forum Bar’ would afford British judges a greater ability to decide what is in the interests of justice and would not equate to the UK undermining international cooperation.
Conference calls for:
1. The UK-US Extradition Treaty to be amended, raising the standard required for a UK-US extradition to require ‘probable cause’ in line with the US-UK extradition requirement.
2. The implementation of the ‘Forum Bar’ provision in the Police and Justice Act 2006.
* Rich Clare is president of Sheffield Hallam University Lib Dems and writes on the blog 'A brief history of liberty'. He is standing for England Convenor in the Liberal Youth elections.