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Extradition Reform

Extradition proceedings have become a tool of political persecution, harassment and intimidation of debtors, and a means of broadening the jurisdiction of authoritarian regimes around the world.  Whether initiated via Interpol or undertaken through direct requests between states, the extradition process is increasingly being used to circumvent due process and abuse accepted norms of international relations; leaving innocent people and fundamental human rights principles unprotected.

Extradition requests are still considered, and proceedings undertaken when the request is without merit on its face, and even when the requesting country does not, or should not, qualify for extradition on the basis of its own penal system and documented human rights violations.  These proceedings cost taxpayers millions every year, and can devastate the lives of those wrongfully sought.

Bahraini refugee in Australia, Hakeem Al-Araibi was detained this year in Thailand over an extradition request from Bahrain; the country he had fled for his life, and from which he had been granted asylum.  This request had been made by Bahrain to Interpol, against Interpol’s own rules governing its policy on refugees. Australian authorities did not comply with the invalid Red Notice against Hakeem, but still notified both Bahrain and Thailand of his travel plans, thus allowing Bahrain to make a direct extradition request to the Thai government.  Only an international campaign and widespread public outrage prevented Hakeem’s repatriation to Bahrain, where his life would undoubtedly have been at risk.

This example highlights how many countries “jurisdiction shop” for governments agreeable to unprincipled extraditions, and demonstrates the urgency of establishing a global standard for the consideration of extraditions.  For a multitude of reasons, Hakeem’s case should never have happened; but unfortunately, many such cases occur far from the media spotlight.

It is essential to articulate an international criteria, inclusive of human rights concerns, basic standards of due process, and legal reasonableness which must be met before any extradition request may be considered.