The Extradition Act 2003 poses a very serious threat to hundreds of British Citizens who will continue to be denied justice if this rotten piece of legislation is allowed to continue unhampered.
It beggars belief that the Extradition Act was ever passed by Labour and one can only assume that ministers made no attempt to read it or understand the consequences.
The Extradition Act requires judges to grant any extradition request without scrutinising the evidence (or lack of it) and they are expressly prevented from making any judgement on whether or not the person is likely to get a fair trial. Fair trials are not a foregone conclusion in countries such as Romania, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Sierra Leone, Russia, Serbia, Liberia et al, and it is shocking to realise that this Act is not restricted to extradition to EU countries and the US but includes all the afore-mentioned states and more.
The Extradition Act should be suspended immediately and extradition requests properly scrutinised on a case-by-case basis until a more thoughtful and competent piece of legislation can be produced that protects our basic right to a fair trial.
Why is this idea important?
Time is running out. More than 500 people were extradited in 2008 without any requirement for the requesting country to show that they had a case against them. The Home Office has predicted that there will be a 250 per cent increase in the number of extradition requests next year. Some of these people, possibly many, will have committed the crimes they are being accused of. But what about the people for whom a proper case has not been made?
An example would be Edmond Erapi, whom Italy wanted to extradite to serve a sentence for murder. His trial had been held and concluded in his absence. His lawyers had proof that he was not in Italy at the time the murder was committed, but that held no sway with our judges and he was due to be summarily extradited when the Italian court must have realised their mistake and abandoned their extradition request. There are likely to be many others who have not been so fortunate.
This could happen to anyone if the Home Office predictions are correct. We are all vulnerable to mistaken identity, malicious claims, incompetence. We must reclaim our right to justice and fair trials.