The nature of extradition between America and Britain has been a burning issue for several years.
The 2003 UK Extradition Act laid into law the procedures by which people could be extradited to and from the US. It also confirmed the agreements from the 2003 US-UK Extradition Treaty, along with arrangements for other countries.
The Treaty modernised the extradition relationship between the U.S. and UK and strengthened each country’s ability to extradite serious offenders wanted for a wide variety of crimes.
In September 2010, the Home Secretary appointed a panel to study UK extradition issues, including the US/UK extradition relationship. That panel- the Baker Review - took evidence from government officials in both the US and the UK and also met with critics of the treaty.
The Review concluded that there was no imbalance in arrangements between the two countries.
Cases, like those of Christopher Tappin and Garry McKinnon, caused controversy in the UK.
MPs have called for arrangements between the two countries to be reviewed.
The Home Affairs Committee’s report was published on 30 March 2012, its main findings were:
- The information requirements on both countries when seeking a person’s extradition should be the same in substance. The same safeguards should be the available to individuals requested for extradition, whether by the UK or the US
- Extradition imposes a significant burden on individuals and this must be properly reflected by an evidence test to be met by the US when requesting someone’s extradition from the UK, balancing the requirements of that test with the cost and delay of applying it
- Cases like those of Garry McKinnon and Richard O’Dwyer raise issues around the appropriate forum for trial when the alleged offence was committed on UK soil. Justice must be seen to be done in public in such cases and judges are better placed than prosecutors to decide them. A “forum bar” should be introduced into the Extradition Act 2003
- The Government must act urgently to address these issues.
The facts speak for themselves, as shown by the Baker Review tally:
It shows that the number of requests the US has made for extradition has fallen away quite sharply in recent years. And although lots of Brits have been arrested here after such a request, the number actually extradited is comparable with those Americans being sent to Britain.
A History of some of the more notable extraditions from the UK to the US:
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