“this is an example of how not to legislate.” Lord Rosser House of Lords 25 March 2013
Monday 25th March was a sad day for those hundreds of thousands of people who have done everything they legitimately can within the democratic process to get our concerns over the UK’s extradition arrangements heard and understood by Parliamentarians who are supposed to represent us.
Smuggled into the Crime & Courts bill at the 11th hour was an ill-considered amendment by the Home Office to establish a new forum bar. The Government’s forum amendment is designed simply to take account of prosecutors’ considerations when determining forum. Noticeable by its absence is a single consideration in favour of the defendant (such as location of exculpatory evidence, defendants’ witnesses, likelihood of bail, sufficiency of legal representation, family considerations etc etc). The forum bar has simply allowed a judge to hear from the prosecutors as to their preference for location of any trial. This does not prevent abuse of the indictment system, which can provide a wholly inaccurate narrative of the alleged crime, and its nexus to the UK, thereby almost certainly securing an extradition. Neither will it prevent horse-trading between prosecutors – provided they agree with one another, one can simply certify that there would be no possibility of a domestic trial because of matters that should not be heard in open court – and this would prevent a refusal of extradition on forum grounds.
Despite 2 Parliamentary reports (Home Affairs Select Committee and Joint Committee on Human Rights), Westminster Hall debates and a subsequent unanimous Commons vote proposing a fair and transparent forum bar – both Houses have rushed through a bar that in practice will have no additional safeguards against unfair extradition whatsoever.
Lord Rosser could not have put it better:
My Lords… this part of the Bill is an example of how not to legislate. … This is no way to make substantial changes to our extradition arrangements.
A sad day indeed.
Thank you for all your support over the years. In time, we know we shall be proved right – and will have another attempt at changing this insidious extradition legislation. Until then, how many more British extradition victims will be shipped of overseas for a trial that should properly be heard at home?
Friends Extradited aims to provide you with a dispassionate look at:
- the history of this piece of US/UK legislation
- the still pressing need for amendment
- the Government's response to calls for change
- a look at several lives badly affected by the law's limitations.
Friends Extradited has deliberately chosen not to focus on the more complex area of European Arrest Warrants and European Investigation Orders which are equally as pernicious. Too many cases of British citizens extradited to EU countries will attest to the inherent flaws in the EAW and EIO legislation. If you are interested in learning more about intra-EU extradition take a look at Fair Trials International's ongoing efforts to redress the harm http://www.fairtrials.net.
Friends Extradited is solely dedicated to changing the rules that apply to US extradition requests.