How do I fight my extradition?
If you are arrested on a European Arrest Warrant, the first thing you will likely want to know is, ‘Can I fight my extradition?’
The answer is yes, you can. However, there are only a limited number of challenges that can be raised to a valid warrant.
As specialist extradition solicitors, JFH Crime provides invaluable advice on extradition and how to fight it. Read on to see what our experts say…
What is a valid warrant?
The Extradition Act sets out what must be included in an extradition warrant. Firstly, it must be issued by a judicial authority. There should also be enough information about the person it relates to for the District Judge to be satisfied that the right person is in court. It must state that the person is accused or convicted of an offence and is wanted to stand trial or to serve a sentence.
If the warrant is a conviction warrant, there must be details about the conviction. This includes the date and place of the conviction, the offence, the sentence, and how long is left to serve.
Similarly, an accusation warrant must contain enough information about the offence for you to know what you are accused of. This includes what you are accused of doing and when and where you did it. You must be told which law you are said to have broken and the maximum sentence you can be given.
In some circumstances, you can argue that what you are wanted for is not an extradition offence. The judge will look at several things, such as where the offence took place, the sentence that has been imposed or could be imposed, and whether it would be an offence in this country. As a very general rule, if it would not be an offence here, it will not be an extradition offence.
Extradition and evidence
If it is a European Arrest Warrant (EAW), issued pre-Brexit, or a TaCA warrant issued post-Brexit, the District Judge hearing your case does not look at the evidence against you in the country asking for your return.
They are not concerned with whether you are guilty of the offence or not. They are simply dealing with a request for you to be extradited to be dealt with under the law and procedure in the requesting country.
Many other countries outside the EAW/TaCa scheme are not required to provide evidence about the case. These include Albania, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States.
JFH Crime can provide legal assistance and support if you have been arrested on an international extradition warrant. Our team of extradition solicitors are available seven days a week to ensure you receive the right help from the start.
Bars to extradition
There are eight ‘bars’ to extradition laid out in the Extradition Act that relate to a European Arrest Warrant:
- Double jeopardy – if you have already been prosecuted for the same offence.
- The absence of a prosecution decision – whether the prosecution case against the accused is sufficiently advanced.
- Extraneous considerations – whether the request is improperly motivated, for example, by race, gender, sexuality, or political opinions.
- Passage of time – whether extradition would be unjust due to the amount of time that has passed since the person committed the alleged offence.
- The requested person’s age.
- Speciality – the requested person must only be dealt with in the requested state for the offences for which they have been extradited.
- Onward extradition – where the requested person has previously been extradited to the UK from a third county, and consent for onward extradition from that country is required but has not been forthcoming.
- Forum – whether it would be more appropriate for the requested person to be prosecuted in the UK instead.
There are an additional two bars for non-European warrants, which include hostage taking and the death penalty.
The most used of these is the passage of time. Although it is common for long periods of time to pass between the offence and a person’s arrest, most people are not able to use this as a reason to oppose their extradition. If a person knows about the case but decides to leave the country and this causes the delay, they cannot say that the amount of time that has passed means they should not be extradited.
Human Rights Act
The District Judge must consider whether extradition is compatible with a person’s human rights. There are regular challenges under Article 8, the right to respect private and family life.
Over recent years there have been many challenges under Article 3, the prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment. Article 3 challenges usually concern prison conditions and require expert evidence.
JFH Crime can help
If you are facing extradition, JFH Crime is here to help. Our team of extradition solicitors and specialists have over thirty years of collective experience and are committed to delivering unparalleled client care.
Please note that the information contained in this article was correct at the time of writing. There may have been updates to the law since the article was written, which may affect the information and advice given therein.