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24 Jun 2015

Does the absence of an extradition treaty lull a person into a false sense of security?

A common misconception in international law is that if there is no extradition treaty in existence between two countries, then you cannot be detained pursuant to an extradition request or extradited.

The recent arrest of Ahmed Mansour illustrates this misconception clearly. Mansour – an Al-Jazeera journalist – was arrested and detained in Germany as a result of an Egyptian arrest warrant. The arrest warrant was issued following Mansour’s conviction in absentia, which he has described as ‘a flimsy attempt at character assassination’.

There is no formal extradition treaty in existence between Germany and Egypt and it is currently unclear on what basis he is being held. INTERPOL stated in October 2014 that it had denied publishing a ‘red notice’ as the request from Egypt did not satisfy its requirements. Mansour was released from custody earlier today and Germany’s Foreign Ministry has said it will no longer consider his extradition.

In the UK, an INTERPOL red notice does not operate as a direct arrest warrant. If a person entering the UK has a red notice against their name, then enquiries are likely to be made of the country that seeks the person, in order to establish whether an extradition request has been sent to the UK/can be sent to the UK. There are many countries with which the UK has formal extradition treaties, and the Extradition Act 2003 provides for extradition arrangements with EU countries (Part 1 requests) or those with which the UK has multilateral or bilateral treaties (Part 2 requests).

Notable countries that we do not have extradition arrangements with include China, Japan, and Egypt. So what happens if the UK does not have extradition arrangements with a country that seeks an individual’s extradition?

A country that is not an extradition treaty partner with the UK can enter into ad-hoc extradition arrangements to seek the extradition of a specific person. In order to achieve this, the government of the United Kingdom and the government of the Requesting State will enter into an arrangement for the person’s extradition. The Secretary of State for the Home Department must then recognise that the two countries have entered into a ‘special extradition arrangement’. The extradition arrangements in place will then be as if the country seeking the extradition of the individual were a Part 2 request. The country will have to establish a prima facie evidential case against the individual sought, an added protection that not all Part 2 requests provide for.

In recent years, ad hoc arrangements have been entered into with the government of Rwanda and in Scotland, with the government of Taiwan.

The world is increasingly becoming a smaller place. If you are aware of criminal proceedings, or have been convicted in your absence in a country that does not have formal extradition arrangements with the UK, you should seek specialist advice from an extradition lawyer who will advise you on the process, should ad hoc arrangements be entered into for your extradition.

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