Motion to Consider
That the Grand Committee do consider the Extradition Act 2003 (Amendment to Designations and Appeals) Order 2015.
Relevant document: 23rd Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (Special attention drawn to the instrument)
My Lords, the statutory instrument before us brings into effect a number of changes to the Extradition Act 2003. This order has two significant purposes. First, it makes several consequential amendments that are needed to bring into force the new appeals filter, which was agreed by Parliament during the passage of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. Secondly, it adds to the list of territories designated under Part 2 of the Act, and amends some existing designations.
I shall briefly explain in a little more detail why these changes are being brought at this juncture and the effect that they will have on our extradition arrangements. Under the 2003 Act, UK extradition partners are designated under either Part 1 or Part 2. The territories designated under Part 1 are EU member states and Gibraltar, which operate the European arrest warrant. Territories are designated under Part 2 on the basis that they are parties to the 1957 European Convention on Extradition, parties to the Commonwealth scheme on extradition or have signed a bilateral extradition treaty with the UK.
Since 2004, from time to time, further territories have been designated for the purposes of Part 2 of the 2003 Act, for example, where territories have joined the European convention, where particular bilateral treaties have taken effect or where experience of extradition cases has shown that designations are required. It was only right, therefore, that in his review of extradition arrangements in 2010, Sir Scott Baker recommended that the Government periodically review Part 2 designations and their evidential requirements. The Government, in response to Sir Scott Baker’s report, undertook to conduct such a review and this order now draws on the findings of the first part of a two-part internal review of designations.
Specifically, in acting on the conclusions of the first part of this review, the Philippines is now being designated as a result of the negotiation and ratification of a bilateral extradition treaty. The existing designation for Serbia and Montenegro is being amended to reflect the fact that they are now separate countries. Kosovo is being specifically designated to reflect its status as a separate territory. The Dutch and Danish overseas territories are being designated because they are parties to the 1957 convention and we, therefore, have a legal obligation towards them. In addition, the British Overseas Territories are being designated following a court ruling that the existing arrangements which were put in place when the 2003 Act came into force did not apply in relation to requests from a British Overseas Territory to the UK. This order will resolve that anomaly.
The order also removes any requirement to provide prima facie evidence for the Dutch and Danish overseas territories, Monaco and San Marino when they make an extradition request to the United Kingdom. This reflects the fact that they are parties to the 1957 convention and our obligations therein. The order removes Monaco and San Marino from the list of territories that are afforded a longer than normal period in which to provide a full extradition request to the judge where a person has been arrested under a provisional warrant. The normal period of 45 days from arrest will now apply to those territories, again to reflect that they are parties to the 1957 convention. The order adds Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha to the list of those territories afforded 65 days to provide the relevant documents. This is because these territories are accessible only by sea and, as such, more time is required to send the original papers.
The second part of our internal review of designations will focus on UK extradition relations under the non-binding Commonwealth scheme for extradition. It will consider matters such as human rights and whether there has been a disproportionately long period of time since any request has been received from a territory, and the effect that that should have on its designation. If it is found to be appropriate to either designate or undesignate a territory or territories, both Houses will be afforded the opportunity to debate this by way of an order before Parliament.
Turning to the other purposes of this order, the Baker review recommended introducing an appeals filter to appeals against extradition under the 2003 Act. This was introduced by the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. The provisions before us will make amendments to the 2003 Act that are consequential on the operation of the appeals filter. The filter represents one of the major reforms to our extradition arrangements, and will apply to extraditions in both Part 1 and Part 2 cases, and to appeals made both by the subject of the request and by the requesting state.
At present, once extradition has been ordered, the person may appeal directly to the High Court. The Baker review found that very few appeals to the High Court succeed. The appeals filter, once it has been commenced, will make it clear that an appeal lies only with the leave of the High Court and should help avoid unmeritorious appeals clogging up the court.
Before the appeals filter can be commenced, a number of minor consequential amendments are required to be made to the 2003 Act. These technical changes will be made by this order in the interests of clarity and to ensure that the appeals filter operates effectively from the moment it comes into force.
I urge noble Lords to support these changes in the interests of efficiency and of ensuring that our extradition arrangements are clear and effective. I beg to move.
My Lords, as the Minister has said, the Extradition Act 2003 provides for two distinct sets of procedures to apply to incoming extradition requests. Part 2 of that Act provides a system that includes ministerial involvement, unlike Part 1 of the 2003 Act. Part 2 is applied to territories that are not EU member states with which the United Kingdom has extradition relations. As the Minister has said, the Baker review of the UK’s extradition arrangements recommended that those territories designated under Part 2 of the Act should be intermittently reviewed, and this order now draws on the findings of the first part of a two-part internal review of designations.
I raise two or three pretty minor points. The Minister referred to the second part of the internal review, which, as I understand it, has still to take place. Can she estimate when it is likely to be completed? Paragraph 7.2 of the Explanatory Memorandum says that that second part of the review,
“will also consider whether there has been a disproportionately long period of time since any request has been received from a territory, and what effect that should have on its designation for the purposes of the 2003 Act”.
Are any of the territories specifically referred to in the Explanatory Memorandum likely to come into this category of the,
“disproportionately long period of time since any request has been received”,
or are we talking about different territories, so that none of the territories specifically referred to in this EM would come into the category being looked at under the second part of the internal review?
The Minister also referred to the change in the number of days addressed in paragraph 7.7 of the Explanatory Memorandum, where it says that,
“in provisional arrest cases involving Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, the period in which the full papers must be provided to the judge is 65 days (rather than the normal 45 days)”.
I have not entirely understood why this situation arises. How many such cases are there each year from these territories? If the present requirement is 45 days, though I am not sure that it is, what are the actual difficulties that have been encountered? Have they meant that we have no alternative but to apply the 65-day period, since obviously the three territories have not only just become accessible by sea? Some would say that that situation may have existed for some time. As I say, I accept that my question may show that I have not fully understood the purpose for, or the reason behind, the change.
The Minister will be aware of what the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments had to say about the relationship between the coming into force of Article 3 of the Act and the commencement of Section 160 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. The department commented that it would make the relationship more explicit in the final version of the Explanatory Memorandum when the order was made. Should the Explanatory Memorandum I have in front of me make the relationship more explicit, or is that an Explanatory Memorandum that is still to come?
I simply asked about the issue that was raised in the 23rd report of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments of the intended relationship between the coming into force of Article 3 of the Extradition Act and the commencement of Section 160 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act, which are all covered in the order and in the Explanatory Memorandum. In responding to that issue, the Home Office said that the department would make the relationship more explicit in the final version of the Explanatory Memorandum when the order is made. I was not entirely clear whether the Explanatory Memorandum that I have in front of me is the one in which the relationship should be made more explicit, or whether another Explanatory Memorandum will be provided that will make it explicit and meet the observation made by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments.
I thank the noble Lord very much for repeating that. To answer the last question first, there will be another one.
The noble Lord asked about territories that had been identified for which a disproportionate period of time may have elapsed. None has yet been identified. He asked about St Helena and Tristan da Cunha. He is absolutely right that there has always been sea around them. There was hundreds of years ago and there still is; that has not changed. In fact, I am sure that I read somewhere about a bridge being built to St Helena. We are approaching this with a sense of reasonableness in terms of delay. There have been no cases from St Helena between 2003 and 2015, but I suppose that a reasonableness test may be applied to getting documents to us or to them.
The noble Lord asked about the date of the second part of the internal review. We are expecting that in the first Session of the new Parliament. I think that answers all his questions.
Committee adjourned at 5.19 pm.