Liberty demands extradition justice

27 August 2010

Today Liberty calls on the Government to activate a provision in the Extradition Act that would introduce a crucial safeguard into the British system. The “forum amendment" was supported by Coalition parties in opposition and has lain dormant on the statute books for four years. It allows a UK court to consider barring extradition if a significant part of the conduct that led to an alleged crime took place in or from the UK.

Liberty will stage a demonstration calling for a review of Britain’s unfair extradition arrangements on the day of the hearing of Kent businessman, Christopher Tappin, whose case could have been heard in a UK court had the amendment been active.

Shami Chakrabarti, director at Liberty said:

"Britain's rotten Extradition system is in urgent need of overhaul but justice begins with a simple first step. Parliament must click the switch and activate the judicial safeguard supported by both Coalition parties in 2006. Without it, people in Britain remain vulnerable to accusation and transportation across the globe."

Tappin faces accusations that in the UK, he deliberately and knowingly tried to export batteries for Hawk missiles from the United States via the Netherlands for later shipping to Iran. Tappin faces up to 35 years in a US prison if convicted.

1. In 2006 amendments were made to the Extradition Act that would allow a UK court to bar extradition on the basis of "forum", giving UK judges greater power to decide on the basis of each individual case whether it is appropriate to order extradition. Yet, these provisions have never been brought into force. When the law was introduced as an Opposition amendment in 2006 the previous Government only agreed to it after introducing a ‘killing clause’ – ensuring that the law could not be brought into force unless both Houses of Parliament passed a resolution to do so. The previous Government never intended to bring it into force - the then Home Secretary the Rt Hon Jon Reid MP was explicit about this when he said: “The Government are not, of course, obliged to bring forward such a resolution, and have no intention of doing so“.

2. If each House of Parliament passes a resolution to bring the forum amendment into force, then the Home Secretary must make a commencement order. This order must bring the provisions into force within one month of the resolutions being made.