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Extradition

Volume 684: debated on Wednesday 12 July 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will suspend the operation of the United Kingdom/United States extradition treaty until the United States Senate approves the treaty so as to ensure reciprocity and equality of treatment; and, if not, what are their reasons for not doing so.[HL6651]

Extradition to the United States is governed by Statutory Instrument 2003, No. 3334, which designates the US as a territory not required to provide prima facie evidence in support of extradition requests made to the UK. The Government have no intention of removing the US from this order. The decision to remove the prima facie requirement from the US addressed a previous imbalance in that the UK required a higher standard of evidence than the US.

The US was required to present a prima facie evidential case in support of extradition requests made to the UK, whereas the UK only had to demonstrate “probable cause”. Probable cause is a requirement of the US Bill of Rights, which it cannot amend. The Government are happy to respect that requirement. Total reciprocity in extradition relations is not possible because of the differences between separate legal systems, rules of evidence and case law. However, the new treaty and the Extradition Act 2003 have improved the balance in extradition relations between the UK and the US.

The “probable cause” test is broadly comparable to the requirement under Section 71 of the Extradition Act 2003 for,

“information that would justify the issue of a warrant for the arrest of a person accused (or convicted) of the offence within the judge's jurisdiction”,

that the UK requires of the US. To reintroduce the prima facie test would be to recreate an unequal relationship.