We are alarmed by the number of extradition requests to India that have been approved by the UK Home Office. We believe that human lives are in effect being sacrificed for trade deals.
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It has been reported that the Foreign Secretary has said that restricting trade because of human rights abuses would mean missing out on “growth markets”.
As trade and political relations with the Indian state deepen, we urge the UK Government to confirm its obligation to its citizens and the ECHR Articles, upholding and prioritising human rights over trade deals, by revoking the extradition treaty with India.
Thursday 28th October 2021
Our extradition framework is unrelated to trade arrangements and protects people from extradition to any country if it would breach their human rights. We do not intend to revoke the UK-India treaty.
The UK Central Authority deals with extradition requests from all non-EU countries. Designated UK extradition partners fall under three headings: parties to the European Convention on Extradition; parties to the London Scheme for Extradition within the Commonwealth; and bilateral treaty partners. Under UK law, before UK courts, every individual wanted for extradition by another country, including India, is considered according to the same criteria regardless of nationality and provided with the same statutory safeguards and judicial oversight to protect their rights.
The Extradition Act 2003 governs all extradition cases before UK Courts and requires a UK Judge to decide whether the requested person's extradition would be compatible with their human rights. These are defined as Convention rights within the meaning of the Human Rights Act 1998. The court must order the requested person’s discharge from their extradition proceedings if extradition would not be compatible with their Convention rights.
This statutory bar to extradition on human rights grounds, imposed by the Extradition Act 2003, is one that UK courts are obliged to consider in every case. A requested person will not be extradited if doing so would breach their human rights, if the request is politically motivated or if they would be at risk of facing the death penalty. The court can also bar a person’s extradition if, according to a range of factors including their health, it would not be in the interests of justice for the extradition to take place and can decide that it would be more appropriate to try the case in the UK than in the requesting state.
The safeguards and protections set out in the Extradition Act 2003 are available in all UK courts to all persons requested for extradition to any overseas jurisdiction, so every country in the world. The Extradition Act sets these safeguards out in full and they operate regardless of the terms of any international legal framework that is in place. They are therefore applicable to all bilateral treaties between the UK and other countries, such as between the UK and India, and any other forms of multilateral international cooperation for example the Commonwealth Scheme and the European Convention on Extradition.
All individuals who are requested for extradition are given the opportunity of a fair and balanced hearing with procedures which are robust and transparent, and the UK courts thoroughly examine whether the conditions which would allow an extradition to take place are met.
These conditions include a comprehensive and rigorous assessment of whether extradition is compatible with the human rights of requested individuals. If there is a risk that the extradition could lead to a breach of those rights, the Extradition Act 2003 creates a statutory bar to extradition. Human rights are part of an extensive suite of protections contained in the Extradition Act 2003, which fall to be considered in every case.
The consideration of extradition cases is a judicial not an executive function. Under the Extradition Act 2003, when considering requests, it is for the Court to make a thorough consideration of all relevant legal issues and to determine whether there are any statutory bars to extradition in each case. The considerations made by the UKs independent courts are not related to trade agreements, nor do the provisions of the Extradition Act 2003 concern trade related issues of any kind. The Government does not intervene in any of these judicial decisions.
The UK-India Extradition Treaty entered into force in November 1993 and is taken into account by the UK courts alongside the UK’s extradition cooperation framework, set out above. Article 9 of the Treaty sets out the grounds for refusing a request for extradition, including if the request has been “made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing (the requested person) on account of his race, religion, nationality or political opinions”, or if the requested person may “be prejudiced at his trial or be punished, detained or restricted in his personal liberty, by reason of his race, religion, nationality or political opinions”.
Additionally, in relation to the Death Penalty, Article 16 states that “If under the law of the Requesting State the person sought is liable to the death penalty for the offence for which his extradition is requested, but the law of the Requested State does not provide for the death penalty in a similar case, extradition may be refused, unless the Requesting State gives such assurance as the Requested State considers sufficient that the death penalty will not be carried out.”
The UK’s extradition framework protects individuals from being extradited when doing so would breach their human rights. The Government, therefore, does not at present have any plans to change the terms of the UK-India Extradition Treaty.