Sir Scott Baker Review Of Extradition Treaty Find UK-US Treaty Not Biased Against Britons

Anger At Extradition Treaty Review

Campaigners have been left baffled and angry by a long-awaited review of extradition arrangements which found the current treaty between the US and the UK is balanced and fair.

Civil rights campaigners, supporters of those facing extradition, MPs, peers, and influential parliamentary committees have all called for the treaty to be renegotiated, saying it puts Britons at a disadvantage. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said the treaty is "lopsided" and the Government will now be under pressure to ignore the findings of the report.

But retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Scott Baker, who led the review, found the UK-US treaty was not biased against Britons. He also said proposed measures to allow a judge to refuse extradition where the alleged offence took place wholly or largely in the UK should be ruled out.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said she was "baffled" by the review's findings: "Britain's rotten extradition system stinks of human rights abuse and rank hypocrisy. It's time we stopped parcelling people off around the world like excess baggage and remembered the duty of all governments to protect their people and treat them fairly."

Critics argue that it is unfair for the US to require "sufficient evidence to establish probable cause" before agreeing to extradite anyone to the UK, while Britons are not afforded the same protection. But today's 486-page report, which has been produced at a cost of about £250,000, said: "There is no practical difference between the information submitted to and from the United States."

The review contradicts the findings of the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR), which called for the Government to renegotiate the UK's extradition treaty with the United States to ensure British citizens get the same protection as Americans.

The review also found that, despite the JCHR's recommendation, judges should not be given the power to refuse extradition requests if the alleged offence took place wholly or largely in the UK.Â

But it called for new "guidance to be drawn up, made public and followed by prosecuting authorities when deciding whether or not to prosecute in the United Kingdom a case involving cross-border criminal conduct". Sir Scott called for greater openness and transparency.

But he added that the Home Secretary's powers to examine human rights matters arising over extradition proceedings should be transferred to judges. Limiting the Home Secretary's role would "remove any perception that decisions are taken for political reasons or influenced by political considerations", it said.

The review also said a proportionality requirement needed to be introduced into the European Arrest Warrant system to prevent them from being used "in cases which do not justify the serious consequences". And it called for "careful but urgent consideration" to bringing back non-means-tested legal aid for extradition proceedings.


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