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Extradition Act 2003

Volume 823: debated on Wednesday 29 June 2022


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to amend the Extradition Act 2003 to remove the list of Part 1 countries which can demand extraditions showing no evidence of any prima facie case to answer.

My Lords, the Government have no plans to make extradition requests from EU countries subject to the prima facie case requirement. Under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, we have robust and streamlined extradition arrangements with part 1 countries. These safeguard the individual and the process, and they enshrine key domestic legislative protections not previously contained in the European arrest warrant framework decision.

My Lords, will my noble friend confirm that those arrangements with EU countries, otherwise known as part 1 countries, are no longer fully reciprocated? For example, Germany no longer offers the same facilities in return. Will she confirm that our arrangement with the United States is wholly unbalanced: it does not treat us in the same way that we treat it? Why do we hold justice so cheap that we are willing to send our people abroad without prima facie evidence of a case, when other civilised countries sensibly and properly refuse to do the same in reverse?

My noble friend asks a number of questions. On his last, it is not the case that we send people abroad without prima facie evidence; the countries that we do not require prima facie evidence from are EU countries that have signed up to the convention on extradition. Part 2 countries include the US and the Five Eyes trusted partners.

My Lords, a review of the United Kingdom’s extradition arrangements, presented to the Home Secretary on 30 September 2011, said:

“We have concluded that the prima facie case requirement should not be re-introduced in relation to category 1 territories.”

Has anything changed since then to make such a conclusion invalid?

No, it has not. In fact, two reviews were presented, both from your Lordships’ House: the Baker review and the one by the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood.

My Lords, further to the Question asked by my noble friend Lord Moylan, can the Minister come back again to the point about the need for total equivalence and reciprocity with all countries? Can the Minister also tell the House whether there will be a further parliamentary review of the Extradition Act and the extradition treaty with the US?

My noble friend will know that we regularly review legislation and, as I have just said to the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, there were reviews in both 2011 and 2015 into our arrangements. I say to him and the House that a prima facie requirement has not existed for over 30 years for any other Part 1 countries—namely, the EU member states—or the Part 2 European Convention on Extradition countries. For the Five Eyes countries in Part 2, it has not existed for nearly 20 years.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for answering what is a really important Question and for confirming, as I understand it, that the Government have no plans to amend the Extradition Act 2003. Can the Minister say a little more about what impact leaving the European arrest warrant has had on the numbers of criminals either extradited or subject to possible extradition in the last 18 months—or, indeed, in the months and years to come?

The noble Lord will of course know that 2021, last year, was far from business as usual, given the context of the pandemic, which impacted both the courts and international travel on both sides. As anticipated, the calendar year figures for 2021, which are now out, show a reduction in volumes in relation to arrests in the UK on incoming extradition warrants from the EU, surrenders from the UK to the EU, and outgoing requests made by the UK. However, if noble Lords look at the financial year figures, which run for an extra three months until March of this year, it reveals an improving picture: the total number of arrests on incoming warrants from the EU was directly comparable to the previous financial year, and surrenders on incoming warrants were, in fact, up by 30%.

My Lords, following on from earlier questions, can the Minister confirm that it is still the case that people who are claimed to be guilty of crimes committed in this country can be extradited to the United States under the unbalanced extradition law we have with them at the moment? Does the Minister feel that this is a correct way to treat UK citizens when the US Government take the line that wire fraud is involved? It is a faulty concept.

I say to the noble Baroness that we have in fact refused far more extradition cases to the US than they have to us by quite a large margin.

When we left the European Union, our relations with Germany stopped. Have we negotiated anything as a replacement?

The noble Lord goes quite nicely back to one of my noble friend Lord Moylan’s questions about Germany. Germany is not alone in not extraditing its own nationals, but we have processes in place which completely adjust to that fact—it is nothing new and nothing unusual now.

I know where the noble Lord is leading. I will not comment on that; I will get him an answer in writing to that.