Home Affairs Committee - Yet Another Report on UK / US Extradition

The Home Affairs Committee published Yet Another Report on Extradition on Friday 31st March 2012t:

This says nothing new about the United Kingdom's unique extradition arrangement with the United States of America,

20. Mr Bermingham told us that the UK is one of only three countries in which the US does not have to produce prima facie evidence for extradition. The others are France, which will not extradite its own citizens to the USA, and the Republic of Ireland, which has a higher forum test than the UK.[32] Witnesses from Fair Trials International, JUSTICE and Liberty all argued that there should be a prima facie evidence test for extradition from the UK.[33]

This has all been said before, by the current Conservative and Liberal Democrat Ministers, when they were in Opposition to the previous Labour government.

7. The Committee is proposing significant changes to the extradition arrangements between the US and the UK not because we are critical of the American justice system but because we recognise the importance of robust extradition arrangements between our two countries. Such extradition arrangements are now threatened by loss of public confidence in the UK and there is a risk that, with time, that lack of confidence will translate into wider disaffection. We believe that the Government should act now to restore public faith in the Treaty by rebalancing the requirements for the provision of information, urgently opening negotiations about the re-introduction of an evidence test, and introducing a forum bar. The Committee believes that these changes will allow for a fair and balanced system of justice between the US and the UK as regards extradition. (Paragraph 36)

This Extradition scandal has already caused a "loss of public confidence" which is continuing to generate "wider disaffection" both with the UK political "elite" and with the United States government and people.

Any changes to the Treaty and to the notorious Extradition Act 2003 will come too late for those who are currently suffering the Kafkaesque bureacratic and political nightmare right now e.g.. Gary McKinnon, Babar Ahmad, Richard O'Dwyer etc.

However, the Government could, as a first step, immediatly Commence by Order the existing forum bar legislation which has already been passed by Parliament, but which both they and the previous Labour government have deliberately ignored for the last 6 years:

27. There is a provision in the Police and Justice Act 2006 which amends the Extradition Act 2003 to introduce a forum bar. Section 83A provides that:

(1) A person's extradition to a category 2 territory ("the requesting territory") is barred by reason of forum if (and only if) it appears that--

(a) a significant part of the conduct alleged to constitute the extradition offence is conduct in the United Kingdom, and

(b) in view of that and all the other circumstances, it would not be in the interests of justice for the person to be tried for the offence in the requesting territory.

(2)For the purposes of subsection (1)(b) the judge must take into account whether the relevant prosecution authorities in the United Kingdom have decided not to take proceedings against the person in respect of the conduct in question.[38]

This provision was inserted by an Opposition amendment in the House of Lords and it has not yet been commenced. The Secretary of State is not required to bring the provision into force unless a resolution to that effect is passed by both Houses of Parliament, though she may do so without such resolutions.[39]

One suspicious and unwelcome feature in this Report is the prominence which they give to the Annex: Statement to the Committee by United States Ambassador Louis B. Sussman

Why is this Statement (which misleads through ommission) displayed, as part of the Conclusions, so much more promininttly than any of the other Written or Oral Evidence given to the Committee, including that from the British Prime Minister and the Home Secretary ?