Law and Rights
Extradition - the Scott Baker Review
|Gary MacKinnon - facing extradition to US|
Joshua Rozenberg wrote in the Law Society Gazette (27th October) that the Baker report on extradition is something to build on. [Scott Baker Report - "A review of the United Kingdom's Extradition Arrangements"]. It is a lengthy report of 488 pages but is of considerable interest in terms of the detailed review of the history of extradition as well as the existing law. However, it should be noted that the review was set up to examine certain specific areas - see Home Office announcement setting up the review.
A "Westminster Hall" debate will take place in Parliament on 24th November - BBC News.
The report has some rather surprising main conclusions. One is that the European Arrest Warrant system "broadly speaking operates satisfactorily" but points to problems arising from the number of warrants issued by some countries and also emphasizes the need to improve procedural rights. Para. 1.14 of the report states:
The scheme is premised on the equivalence of the protections and standards in the criminal justice systems in each Member State. However, the Commission recognises that in some aspects (such as the length and conditions of pre-trial detention) action is required to raise standards. We note that the Joint Committee on Human Rights recommended that the United Kingdom Government should ?take the lead in ensuring there is equal protection of rights, in practice as well as in law, across the EU?.
We recommend that the UK Government work with the European Union and other Member States through the Roadmap for strengthening the procedural rights of suspected or accused persons in criminal proceedings and other measures to improve standards.
This hardly sounds like a scheme which is satisfactory and procedural rights are important !
A further conclusion is that the US - UK arrangements do not operate in an unbalanced manner. The report states that there is no significant difference between the US (probable cause) test for arrest and the UK's "reasonable suspicion" test.
The report calls for a re-introduction of non-means tested legal aid for extradition proceedings taking place in England, Wales and Scotland so as to bring those parts of the UK on a par with Northern Ireland.
Fair Trials International has published their view of the report. A very much more scathing attack on the report's conclusions came from Liberty which stated that it rejects the main conclusions and states that it is completely baffled by the report. The Law Society Gazette took a look at Liberty's response - "Liberty attacks 'baffling' review of extradition law."
Apart from the review by Sir Scott Baker, The human rights aspects of extradition are the subject of a report by the Parliamentary Human Rights Joint Committee - 15th Report.
Mr David Bermingham - one of the "Natwest Three" - wrote to the Law Society Gazette on 3rd November. He said:-
"Sir Scott Baker's review is a fine piece of dry legal analysis, but lacks the one ingredient that would perhaps have served it best - humanity. It starts from an unspoken proposition - that extradition is fundamentally desirable. It is a treatise on expeditious process rather than an analysis of what our extradition law should be about. This is a great shame and I believe an opportunity wasted."
Addendum: The Independent 8th November - "Fracking go ahead despite new fears" - Note: This article relates to activity in Scotland.
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