UK government to review controversial extradition laws

[JURIST] UK Home Secretary Theresa May [official profile] told Parliament Wednesday that the government will review the fairness of current extradition laws [statement] that have stirred controversy in the country. Among the extradition laws to be reviewed are the European Arrest Warrant [materials] and the 2003 US-UK Extradition Treaty [text, PDF], as well as government's power to release individuals into foreign custody and the proper amount of evidence that must be provided against persons sought through extradition. May explained the purpose of the review process:

There are a number of areas of the UK's extradition arrangements which have attracted significant controversy in recent years. The government understands that these are longstanding concerns and the review will therefore focus on five issues to ensure that the UK's extradition arrangements work both efficiently and in the interests of justice.
Critics of the US-UK Extradition Treaty argue that it is unfairly one-sided [Reuters report], allowing more extraditions from the UK to the US than vice versa. Human rights groups have called for reforms [press release] to the country's extradition laws and some groups have criticized May [UKPA report] for not pressing the matter more forcefully. The review is scheduled for completion next summer.

The fairness of UK extradition laws have been the center of much debate in light of several prominent criminal cases. In July, a UK court blocked the extradition [JURIST report] of former Bosnian president Ejup Ganic [Trial Watch profile] to Serbia to stand trial for alleged war crimes, saying that the extradition request was politically motivated [AFP report] and an abuse of the processes of the court. Earlier this year, May announced that the extradition of alleged hacker Gary McKinnon [BBC profile; advocacy website] to the US would be delayed [JURIST report]. McKinnon was arrested by British police in 2002 and indicted [text, PDF] by US authorities later that year on charges of hacking NASA, Department of Defense, Air Force, Army and Navy computers in violation of US computer laws [18 USC § 1030 text]. At the time, May indicated [Times Online report] she would carefully consider the UK's extradition treaty with the US as well as McKinnon's medical history before she determines if the extradition order should stand.

 

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