Statewatch article: RefNo# 6940
New UK-US Extradition Treaty
Statewatch News Online, August 2003
This Special Report is also available in "pdf" format to download: Analysis no 18

On 31 March, David Blunkett, UK Home Secretary, signed an Extradition Treaty on behalf of
the UK with his United States counterpart, Attorney General Tom Ashcroft, ostensibly
bringing the US into line with procedures between European countries. The UK parliament
was not consulted at all and the text was not public available until the end of May. The only
justification given for the delay was "administrative reasons", though these did not hold-up
scrutiny by the US senate, which began almost immediately.

The UK-US Treaty has three main effects:

- (1) it removes the requirement on the US to provide prima facie evidence when requesting
the extradition of people from the UK but maintains the requirement on the UK to satisfy the
"probable cause" requirement in the US when seeking the extradition of US nationals;

- (2) it removes or restricts key protections currently open to suspects and defendants;

- (3) it implements the EU-US Treaty on extradition, signed in Washington on 25 June 2003,
but far exceeds the provisions in this agreement.

An analysis of the new UK-US Treaty - which will replace the 1972 UK-US Treaty - follows
below, together with a number of relevant cases and issues that raise serious concern about
the new agreement (and those between the EU and US).

Ben Hayes of Statewatch comments:

"Under the new treaty, the allegations of the US government will be enough to secure
the extradition of people from the UK. However, if the UK wants to extradite someone
from the US, evidence to the standard of a "reasonable" demonstration of guilt will still
be required.

No other EU countries would accept this US demand, either politically or
constitutionally. Yet the UK government not only acquiesced, but did so taking
advantage of arcane legislative powers to see the treaty signed and implemented
without any parliamentary debate or scrutiny.

Guantanamo Bay, the failed extradition of Lofti Raissi and US contempt for the
International Criminal Court make this decision to remove relevant UK safeguards all
the more alarming"

Evidence requirements in the new UK-US extradition treaty

Article 8 of the UK-US Treaty sets out the new extradition procedures between the two
countries [1]. As with the old treaty [2], the offences in question must satisfy 'dual criminality'
and be punishable in both states by a minimum custodial sentence of one year or more. The
crucial 'update' is that under the old treaty (Article IX), the requesting state had to provide

"sufficient according to the law of the requested Party… to justify the committal for

A reasonable standard and not especially high (essentially the same standard required at the
committal stage in domestic criminal proceedings). Under the new treaty (art. 8, para. 2(b))
the state seeking extradition must provide:

"a statement of the facts of the offense(s)" [sic]

The Home Office press release announcing the treaty (to parliament and public alike) stated
that a 'detailed statement of the facts of the case' would be required [3]. In the event it hardly
matters, "facts" here do not mean evidence but refer instead to allegations. By way of
example, the equivalent requirement in the European Arrest Warrant [4] is a:

"Description of the circumstances in which the offence(s) was (were) committed,
including the time place and degree of participation in the offence(s) by the requested

In practise this may only be a few sentences. Critically, there is an additional requirement on
the UK only to provide (art.

© Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X. Personal usage as private individuals/"fair dealing" is allowed. We also welcome links to material on our site. Usage by those working for organisations is allowed only if the organisation holds an appropriate licence from the relevant reprographic rights organisation (eg: Copyright Licensing Agency in the UK) with such usage being subject to the terms and conditions oof that licence and to local copyright law. Statewatch is not responsible for the content of external websites and inclusion of a link does not constitute an endorsement.

Click here to return to your search results
For a print friendly version click here
To start a new search, click here
To return to the Statewatch home page click here
Statewatch, PO Box 1516, London N16 0EW, UK. Tel: + 44 (0)207 697 4266 Fax: + 44 (0)208 880 1727 email