Opinion: Proposed conference motion on extradition to the US

USA Flag - Some rights reserved by freefotoukIt’s that time of year when Federal Conference Reps are pestered for signatures to help get motions selected for Spring Conference and this is no exception.

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:

Conference notes:
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.

Conference believes:
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.

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  • Are any of you aware of something called the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act(FATCA) and recent UK US Integovernmental Agreement to implement it. This thing is really bad and really one sided towards the US. Absolutely no one is talking about it. It is technically being negotiated by HM Treasury and they are doing a really bad job. There was a recent forum in Toronto Canada discussing the application of the same US law to Canada and a proposed US Canada FATCA Intergovernmental Agreement.


  • Stop Imperialism now 2nd Jan '13 - 12:58pm

    I strongly support this motion and it should give all citizens of the UK the right to be tried in the UK.
    There should be no extraditions where there is a political motive, a question of repression of free speech.,
    where capital punishment is adopted, or where the person could disappear from world view.
    The case of Bradley Manning is a point in question. Also Julian Assange who fears what would happen if he ends up in US hands would then rather be locked in the Equadorian embassy in London.
    If you look at US history you come to the conclusion this fear may be justified. Yes, the bombing of Vietnam last century, their role in overturning Chile in 1973 to a repressive military dictatorship. The support for Israel repression of Palestine’s right to exist. …And so on…..
    Then internally, there is the arrest and removal of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Steins when she tried to join a TV debate, what then turned out to be a 2 party fix.
    If politicians in the UK think the present USA is democratic then I fear for the future of Liberal democracy.

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