Extradition is when a person, who has been charged with a crime, has fled the state or country, and is then transferred back to the necessary court in order to sit trial or serve his or her sentence.
If a person commits a crime in country A but is residing in country B extradition states that he/she be extradited back to country A in order to be tried.
Even if country B does not have an extradition arrangement with the UK, there is still the possibility of extraneous arrangements with the right representation.
The law of extradition underwent a fundamental revision with the introduction of the Extradition Act 2003.
This revision was based upon the need for speed when tackling international crime and terrorism.
Until recently there were four primary exceptions or safeguards against the extradition order, these include:
- Double Criminality – whereby the offence apparently committed in country A must also be considered an offence in country B.
- Speciality – in that the person accused would not proceed for any other offences apart from the one for which the extradition was initially sought.
- Political Offence – originally refused in English courts, the crime for ‘political offences’ has changed however with the Suppression of Terrorism Act 1978.
- Double Jeopardy – where the accused person cannot be tried for the same crime twice.
Whereas previous extradition protections had allowed for a larger degree of safeguarding, the 2003 Act no longer includes the political offence exception and the requirement of ‘double criminality’ has been significantly reduced.