Statewatch News online: Extradition Convention comes into effect in UK

UK: 1995 and 1996 Conventions on Extradition come into effect

The European Union Extradition Regulations 2002 came into effect in the UK on 20 March. This gives effect to the 1995 Convention on Simplified Extradition between member states of the EU (covering "voluntary" agreement to extradition) and the 1996 Convention relating to Extradition (covering "involuntary" extradition). The two Conventions modify the European Convention on Extradition (ECE). Only those EU states where the Conventions are in force can use the powers.

The UK, Belgium, France and Italy have not yet ratified the 1995 Convention and France and Italy have not ratified the 1996 Convention.

This move and these two Conventions should not be confused with the proposal to introduce a European arrest warrant which will replace them in 2003/2004.

Full-text of Home Office circular: Text

Home Office, News Release

The 1995 and 1996 EU Extradition Conventions came into force today after being approved by Parliament in December 2001. The Conventions were implemented using the powers in part 13 of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act, that enable certain measures agreed at the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council to be introduced by secondary legislation.

The 1995 & 1996 conventions will simplify, harmonise and speed up the extradition process. Among the numerous changes the conventions will:

§ Streamline procedures for cases where the fugitive and the requested state consent to extradition.
§ Reduce the extradition crime threshold, which will reduce the potential for extradition requests being refused because of minor discrepancies in countries' legal systems.
§ Relax authentication requirements which can be onerous and on occasions delay committal proceedings by weeks or even on occasions lead to fugitives being discharged.
§ Relax the principle of dual criminality for the offence of conspiracy or criminal association to commit certain serious crimes, including terrorist offences.
§ Allow extradition for offences related to taxes, duties, customs and exchange which correspond under the law of the requested Member State to a similar offence.
§ Provide for the extradition of own nationals.

Home Secretary David Blunkett said:

"The Government is committed to speeding up extradition and developing a more efficient, effective system across the EU and is currently preparing a draft Extradition Bill to put into place the results of the review it concluded last year.

In the meantime, these new measures will mean we are better equipped to bring organised criminals and terrorist suspects to justice. The implementation of the Conventions also demonstrates the value of the enabling power in part 13 of the Anti-Terrorism Act which allows for the introduction of important amendments to Extradition law by secondary legislation."

Notes for editors

1. The European Union Extradition Regulations 2002 (SI2002/419) were the first regulations to be made under the provisions of Section 111 & 112 of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act, when they were approved by Parliament on 19 December 2001. In accordance with the provisions of the Conventions the Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union was notified that the UK had ratified them. They then had to enter into force, with the other countries that have ratified them, 90 days after that notification, i.e. on 20 March.

2. The Regulations give effect to the 1995 Convention on Simplified Extradition Procedures between Member States of the European Union and the 1996 Convention Relating to Extradition between Member States of the
European Union.

3. The provisions of the Conventions only apply to requests made after the coming into force of the Regulations and the arrangements are limited to those countries in respect of which the Conventions are in force as between
them and the UK. Belgium, France and Italy have yet to ratify the 1995 Convention. (Belgium and France are expected to do so very soon) France and Italy have yet to ratify the 1996 Convention, although France is also
expected to do so very soon.

4. Proposals on implementing the Conventions were included in the consultation document "The Law on Extradition: A Review" which was published in March 2001. A summary of the responses to this consultation
was placed in the Library of the House of Commons and published on the Home Office website on 24 October 2001. The consultation paper and responses can be read on the Home Office website at:
Both Conventions underwent Parliamentary scrutiny at the time they were negotiated and were published as Command Papers after being signed, before being approved by Parliament on 19 December 2001.

5. The new measures are limited to Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Regulations cover Scotland, Extradition law is a reserved matter by virtue of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998. The Scottish Executive was consulted at all stages in the implementation process.

6. The Home Office aims to publish a draft Extradition Bill before the summer recess and to introduce the Extradition Bill in the next Parliamentary session.

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