JUSTICE submitted a briefing on the Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill 2019-20 ahead of Second Reading in the House of Lords on 4 February 2020.
The Bill amends Part 2 of the Extradition Act 2003, which deals with extradition to non-EU territories with which the UK has formal extradition arrangements. Its provisions create a new power of arrest for extradition purposes (Clause 1, Schedule). This will enable law enforcement officers to arrest individuals without a warrant of arrest from a UK court where a request for an individual’s arrest is certified as having been issued by a “specified category 2 territory” in relation to a serious offence (Schedule, paras 2 and 4).
We outlined the following concerns regarding the Bill:
- We think that the new power of arrest created by the Bill is unnecessary. Provisional arrest powers already exist to cover urgent arrests and in addition, the material impact of the new legislation would be limited.
- We consider that the law and order justification for the Bill is not made out and are concerned about the stripping away of the safeguard provided by a judicial warrant.
- Although the Bill does not create power of arrest whenever an INTERPOL red notice is issued, we are concerned about any move to expedite a system already open to misuse by member countries with derisory human rights records.
- The real issue an Extradition Bill ought to address is the possibility of the UK’s removal from the European Arrest Warrant (EAW). Although the current Bill makes provision for this eventuality, its introduction raises questions as to the current status of the UK/EU negotiations on future criminal justice cooperation, and as to whether these will address the shortcomings currently associated with the EAW.
Our briefing was relied on by a number of Peers during the debate. We will continue to scrutinise the Bill through the legislative process.