Extradition law is an extremely complex area of the law. handling such cases requires a special skills and a high level of understanding of international law and human rights. It is a process with which the International Law attorneys at Mercado & Rengel are intimately familiar.
Extradition is the official process whereby one nation surrenders a suspected or convicted criminal to the jurisdiction of the soliciting or petitioning nation. Between nation states (sovereign governments), extradition is regulated by treaties. Where extradition is compelled by laws, such as among sub-national jurisdictions (States such as in the United States or provinces in countries in Europe), the concept may be known more generally as rendition.
Specifics of Extradition
By enacting laws or concluding treaties or agreements, countries determine the conditions under which they may entertain or deny extradition requests. Common bars to extradition include:
- Failure to fulfill dual criminality – generally the act for which extradition is sought must constitute a crime punishable by some minimum penalty in both the requesting and the requested parties.
- Political nature of the alleged crime – most countries refuse to extradite suspects of political crimes. Most countries will deny extradition requests if, in the government’s opinion, the suspect is sought for a purely political crime.
- Possibility of certain forms of punishment – some countries refuse extradition on grounds that the person, if extradited, may receive capital punishment or face torture. A few go as far as to cover all punishments that they themselves would not administer.
- Jurisdiction – Jurisdiction over a crime can be invoked to refuse extradition. In particular, the fact that the person in question is own citizen causes a country to have jurisdiction.
- Citizenship of the person in question – some countries refuse extradition of own citizens, holding trials for the persons themselves.
Many countries, such as Mexico, Canada and most European nations, will not allow extradition if the death penalty may be imposed on the suspect unless they are assured that the death sentence will not be passed or carried out.
It is worth noting that in the case of Soering v. United Kingdom, the European Court of Human Rights held that it would violate Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights to extradite a person to the United States from the United Kingdom in a capital case. This was due to the harsh conditions on death row and the uncertain timescale within which the sentence would be executed. As a corollary, parties to the European Convention also cannot extradite people where they would be at significant risk of being tortured inhumanely or subjected to degrading treatment.
In most cases these restrictions are contained within the extradition agreements. Most countries make extradition subject to review by that country’s courts. These courts may impose certain restrictions on extradition, or prevent it altogether, if for example they deem the accusations to be based on dubious evidence, or evidence obtained from torture, or if they believe that the defendant will not be granted a fair trial on arrival, or will be subject to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment if extradited or there is some other flaw in the request.
Some countries, such as France, Russian Federation, Germany, Austria, China and Japan, forbid extradition of their own citizens either by law or by treaty. However, these countries often have laws in place that give them jurisdiction over crimes committed abroad by or against citizens. By virtue of such jurisdiction, they prosecute and try citizens accused of crimes committed abroad as if the crime had occurred within the country’s borders.
In Regards the USA
The United States Department of Justice would acts on behalf of the USA Government as the requesting country and in cases initiates the extradition process by sending a diplomatic request, through the US embassy, to the ministry of foreign affairs or its equivalent in the country where the person sought is being detained or residing (detaining state). The requests are of two types: formal requisitions supported by all documents required under the applicable treaty, or requests for provisional arrest. The detaining state reviews the extradition demands to identify any potential foreign policy problems, to ensure that there is a treaty in force between the United States and the detaining state. The second step is to confirm that the crime or crimes are extraditable offenses and to begin the legal process as per the laws of the particular country. The USA is often seen to bully countries into acceding to extraditions and in some cases the USA has resorted to tactics that have been bemoaned internationally.
Our firm has handled cases from Extradition in connection with Colombia, Mexico, Spain, Kosovo, Dubai (UAE), and others. Please call us to discuss your extradition proceeding weather it is Federal or State Court, we can help because we are attorneys with real experience in these matters.