Replace extradition with UK based trials

Proposer
jthub
State

Rejected

Vote Score

-999

Age

2225 days


@jthub edited manifesto/crime.md - about 6 years ago

A review will be carried out into the composition of juries, especially for complex trials.

Extradition

The UK will no longer extradite anyone to stand trial abroad. Alleged offences may have been committed while defendants were in the UK, or only in another country for a short time, and facing trial in an unfamiliar country without access to a support network that would available at home is too close to punishment rather than process. Instead, provisions will be made for 'international courts', where defendants can be tried without leaving the country. These international courts would host trials by countries which previously had extradition treaties with the UK.

jthub

@jthub - about 6 years ago

I suspect this needs more thought (I'm guessing renegotiating extradition treaties is unlikely to be simple!) but I think the current system is unbalanced. The burden should be firmly on the prosecuting country, which has far larger resources at its disposal than the average defendant who, after all, is innocent until proven guilty. Trying people in the UK seemed like a good starting point, especially given the nature of some crimes that have caused problems (committed in the UK, or where there are doubts about fair trials abroad, potential for onward extradition, etc.). The intention is, if the details can be made to work, to end up with a much quicker process (fewer fights against extradition) and one that doesn't unduly punish anyone before they are convicted. Any thoughts? Cheers, James

Floppy

@Floppy - about 6 years ago

I like this. Are there any countries that do this already?

philipjohn

@philipjohn - about 6 years ago

Nice suggestion. Clearly the biggest obstacle is the difference in offences, punishments and the justice system. Some questions that immediately spring to mind (to which I have no answers); - Against what offence would a defendant be charged? That of the foreign country, or a comparable British offence? - If the latter and there is no comparable offence, what happens? - If there is a comparable offence and there is a conviction what sentencing structure is used - that of the foreign state, or the UK? - Where is a convict to be incarcerated? - Who pays? :)

jt-nti

@jt-nti - about 6 years ago

I don't know of any countries that do this already, but the impression I get is that the UK is currently on the more willing to extradite people end of the spectrum. The details of which offences would be covered would be handled in a similar way to the current extradition treaties, and therefore likely to vary by country. I assume in extradition cases, the sentencing structure used is that of the foreign state, so the same here. The change I had in mind is more about where the trial takes place, rather than anything else. After conviction you're in to punishment territory, rather than how someone who is still presumed innocent is treated. That's not something I was really interested in for this change, but perhaps worth thinking about afterwards? The foreign state would pay.

philipjohn

@philipjohn - about 6 years ago

I'm not sure we could justify (for good reason) allowing trials to take place in the UK that don't conform to our laws. Imagine, for example, that Uganda which to extradite and charge one of it's citizens for engaging in "gay sex". They would instead face trial in the UK for something that is rightly not an offence in the UK, and could be condemned to up to 14 years in prison. The British public would be rightly outraged at something like that taking place in their western liberal democracy.

That's just an example to show that there's an impact of this which needs addressing first. I like the idea, but am concerned at the potential consequences as it stands.

jt-nti

@jt-nti - about 6 years ago

This isn't about changing what crimes are covered, just where the trial takes place. I sincerely hope no one could currently be extradited from the UK for 'engaging in "gay sex"', and that wouldn't change. Any suggestions for how to make that clearer in the manifesto?

Floppy

@Floppy - about 6 years ago

Is there guidance on how extradition requests like that are handled at the moment? Could we say that in cases where extradition would be allowed, we try here instead, relying on the current guidance around extradition?

PaulJRobinson

@PaulJRobinson - almost 6 years ago

I agree with @philipjohn and think we would end up prosecuting people for doing things that are not criminal acts in the UK. Why should we uphold US gun laws? Or US abortion laws? Or French bans on face veils? We have enough crazy laws of our own that I don't agree with, I don't want our courts applying foreign laws that UK Parliament and UK voters have not consented to. Perhaps the rules around extradition require tightening (I don't know enough to comment) but I don't agree with the proposal as it stands.

๐Ÿ‘Ž

tmtmtmtm

@tmtmtmtm - almost 6 years ago

Most extradition treaties already require dual criminality. Presumably this would simply apply the same way.

jt-nti

@jt-nti - almost 6 years ago

@tmtmtmtm is correct. @PaulJRobinson @philipjohn this is not about changing what laws anyone is subject to, just the location that a trial would take place for any crime that you could currently be extradited for.

Floppy

@Floppy - almost 6 years ago

On that basis, I'm happy with this ๐Ÿ‘ Perhaps we should make the dual criminality thing more explicit to avoid confusion?

PaulJRobinson

@PaulJRobinson - almost 6 years ago

@jthub Would you mind clarifying via an example? Woman wears a face veil in Paris. Plenty of evidence to demonstrate that she commtted the offence (eg witnesses and CCTV cameras showing her putting it on etc). Woman moves to London where she now lives. French authorities up in arms that she broke the law whilst living in France. Rather than extraditing her you're suggesting that she is tried by a UK Court for breaking a French Law? Or would it be a French Court (with French judges and clerks) that just happens to be in a building in the UK? I'm sorry I'm still confused on this. Please use an alternative example if you don't think mine is appropriate.

Floppy

@Floppy - almost 6 years ago

My understanding is that that isn't a crime in the UK, so we wouldn't extradite her anyway?

frankieroberto

@frankieroberto - almost 6 years ago

Seems logistically complicated. Calling witnesses / evidence for crimes committed elsewhere might be tricky?

PaulJRobinson

@PaulJRobinson - almost 6 years ago

ah ok @Floppy got it. So let's call it murder which is a crime in both places. That would be a crime for extradition. She's in Gare De Nord on her way to moving to London to start a new life. And she casually knifes someone at the Ticket Booth before boarding the train. At her trial in London do we apply the nuances of French law? Or English Case Law? Are they French judges and clerks? Does the UK CPS prosecute? I assume we bring all the witnesses across from France? Do we apply British sentencing guidelines which are also rather different. If convicted does she serve her sentence in the UK or in France? Which parole regulations are applied?

Floppy

@Floppy - almost 6 years ago

In that case, I'd assume that instead of extraditing her, it would basically be a french trial held in the UK. If convicted, she's then sent to France to serve. French law applies at all times, but nobody would be sent abroad until found guilty. Right @jthub?

PaulJRobinson

@PaulJRobinson - almost 6 years ago

OK so a French trial held in the UK. So we would also be hosting various Jordanian trials, Ugandan trials etc etc depending on where the offence was committed and which jurisdiction applied. Those trials would be held according to the rules and customs of those countries. For practicality and legality sake I would assume that these trials would be held within an Embassy or what was essentially foreign soil within the UK. What would be the difference if they were in the country of original jurisdiction? I think all we're avoiding here is the price of a plane ticket for the Accused and everything else would remain the same.

jt-nti

@jt-nti - almost 6 years ago

@Floppy @PaulJRobinson murder is a better example but, for the sake of argument, let's assume that the defendant is not guilty. So yes, as @frankieroberto points out, there are some logistical difficulties, but we are trying to minimise the impact on someone who should be presumed innocent. The trial would be exactly the same as if it took place in France although we have some pretty magical technology so just maybe dragging the witnesses to the UK wouldn't actually be necessary. Having said that, it's a French trial so they could do what they liked.

jt-nti

@jt-nti - almost 6 years ago

@PaulJRobinson "I think all we're avoiding here is the price of a plane ticket for the Accused and everything else would remain the same." No. We are avoiding putting someone, who is already under a huge amount of strain, being ripped away from any support network they might have at home, and thrust into a completely foreign environment.

Floppy

@Floppy - almost 6 years ago

I think the basic rationale is that we're defaulting to protecting residents of the UK until proved guilty, rather than handing them over to some other country where we can't do that any more, which I'm OK with.

Out of interest, are there any countries that do this already? Always good to have existing examples.

PaulJRobinson

@PaulJRobinson - almost 6 years ago

But prima facie evidence must be presented to UK authorities prior to any extradition order being granted. That basic safeguard that you're looking for @Floppy already exists.

Besides, if we have concerns about a fair trial or that the procedures of a foreign court aren't to our taste, it wouldn't matter whether the court was physically located in Riyadh or their London Embassy, as those same procedures would be applied and we would have no right to interfere. Would we interrupt a trial if we don't like how it's proceeding? Or refuse to allow a sentence to be carried out if it went against our sensibilities?

jt-nti

@jt-nti - almost 6 years ago

As far as I know Russia does not allow any extradition, and there was a hint of trials in Russia as an alternative, but nothing formal: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/may/22/russia.lukeharding

PaulJRobinson

@PaulJRobinson - almost 6 years ago

Sorry to be glib, but are we really looking to Russia as a model for our criminal justice system? I remain unconvinced by the proposal, but have had my say and think I'll bow out to let others have a view.

jt-nti

@jt-nti - almost 6 years ago

@PaulJRobinson well @Floppy did ask for an example and it seemed relevant. I personally think UK citizens should face trial for serious crimes committed outside the UK, so I wouldn't go as far as Russia.

jt-nti

@jt-nti - almost 6 years ago

@PaulJRobinson "But prima facie evidence must be presented to UK authorities prior to any extradition order being granted" is that true for the European arrest warrant? Doesn't seem to be required for Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Georgia, Iceland, Israel, Liechtenstein, Macedonia FYR, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, Russian Federation, Serbia, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine or the US. https://www.gov.uk/extradition-processes-and-review

doismellburning

@doismellburning - almost 6 years ago

There appear to be logistical, legal, and practical problems with the proposed solution of "bringing the trial to the UK".

Wouldn't a better idea be to look at it in reverse? Allow the trial to take place in $otherCountry with the defendant remaining in the UK until the trial's conclusion (obviously participating via video-link or whatever) and only extradited upon a guilty verdict.

That way they retain their support network, and the only person needing to come to the UK would be their defence lawyer. Ensuring only one person is "linked in" to a trial is going to be physically, financially, and logistically easier than this whole notion of "transferring" a foreign court, in its entirety, to the UK (rules of evidence, rules of procedure, experts, burdens of proof, lawyers, local knowledge, any jury/other)

As to whether you extradite before or after the sentencing hearing (as distinct from the trial), well, I leave this as an exercise for someone else...

jt-nti

@jt-nti - almost 6 years ago

@doismellburning certainly seems more workable, I like it

Floppy

@Floppy - almost 6 years ago

Yes, I like this too. Keeps the legal problems to a minimum but still protects our people from being abandoned in a foreign country. Nice idea.

tmtmtmtm

@tmtmtmtm - almost 6 years ago

There's a long history that trials in absentia are a fundamentally Very Bad Thing. Although video-conferencing or equivalent isn't the same as being entirely absent, I suspect many/most legal jurisdictions don't yet have procedures that allow for it โ€”ย though I'd be interested as to whether my suspicions here are actually true or not. I remember reading of at least one case where a conviction was overturned because the defendant was only present by video, and that was deemed not to be sufficient โ€” though that was quite some time ago, and it's entirely possible that rules on this sort of thing have changed. I have seen pre-trial hearings in the UK where the defendant is video-conferenced in from a room at the prison, rather than attending court, though I don't know if that's possible for the trial itself.

But aside from the purely procedural aspect, I'm still uneasy with the idea generally. Even with the best technology available today, the defendant wouldn't be able to participate remotely in the trial to the same degree as if present.

doismellburning

@doismellburning - almost 6 years ago

@tmtmtmtm I absolutely agree; it's proposed as an improvement on "import a court", rather than a complete solution.

However is this not about offering defendants a choice, and thus an improvement? That is, going from "you face extradition" to "you face extradition or can choose to be tried remotely". Assuming the person can make an informed choice, would I be correct in viewing this as net-positive?

tmtmtmtm

@tmtmtmtm - almost 6 years ago

@doismellburning I'm not sure that it's net positive, unless the option is a good one. (The same logic would say that "You face extradition or can be imprisoned here for life without trial" would also be an improvement).

But more generally I'm not sure I particularly like any of the proposals here. That may be because I don't properly understand what the problem is that they're trying to solve, and whether a better solution might just be tightening up the existing processes around extradition, rather than trying to invent an entire new system that the rest of the world would also need to agree with.

doismellburning

@doismellburning - almost 6 years ago

@tmtmtmtm So, I do think that's an improvement (granted, not much of an improvement, but still - if I thought I was likely to end up with life imprisonment in the US, I think I'd take the UK option...)

Meanwhile, I agree with you about it being better to improve current extradition system (somehow) - anything that requires international agreement is going to be Fun And Games (TM) to make happen...

philipjohn

@philipjohn - almost 6 years ago

I think the basic rationale is that we're defaulting to protecting residents of the UK until proved guilty, rather than handing them over to some other country where we can't do that any more.

This sounds like a good summary of the core purpose behind this proposal. A good one, but the proposal creates a very uneasy situation. There are three fundamental problems with it; 1. If only comparable offences are tried, what do we do with the rest? Just default to the current setup? That sounds half-arsed. 2. Offences are never comparable. Law is complex and you can't simply say an offence in one country is the same as an offence in another. The U.S. is a good example - we have murder, they have first-, second- and third-degree murder. First-degree murder carries the death sentence so what happens to a Briton charged with murder in the U.S.? 3. Every country with which we have an extradition treaty would have to agree to it (and the associated increase in costs). That's an unrealistic goal. The U.S. certainly would never go for it. What do we do when they refuse to agree?

We already have extradition treaties and policy that seek to protect the human rights of citizens. If the problem is that their rights aren't protected the solution is to strengthen our rules governing when we would extradite. We could; - Link extradition treaties to UN human rights monitoring - Strengthen the requirement for prima facie evidence (if it is indeed too weak, as suggested) - Provide a sort of 'compulsory legal aid' system specifically for extradited citizens - Only extradite to place where we can be certain enough the treatment of prisoners is up to our standards - Put the British embassy in charge of their case

jt-nti

@jt-nti - over 5 years ago

"I think the basic rationale is that we're defaulting to protecting residents of the UK until proved guilty, rather than handing them over to some other country where we can't do that any more." sounds like a reasonable summary.

Monitoring and assurances still seem too weak to me- there is still effectively a element of punishment in the process. For example, I was trying to remember a fairly recent case where someone who had been extradited to the US and was experiencing medical problems- I think it was Paul Dunham who, at the time, had still not been convicted, was on bail, could not work, had heart problems and could not have medical expenses covered by the UK.

Legal aid sounds great, but that could be a wider issue!

Perhaps the defendant remain in the UK except when actually required to appear in court?

There also seems to be a group with a related campaign (I should probably read it when I get the chance!) - http://www.friends-extradited.org/index.php