How not to extradite…

Britian in EuropeSo earlier today, UK Human Rights blog reported that the UK courts stated that Sweden’s application for the extradition of Julian Assange was valid and that he should be returned in custody to Sweden. I thought and hoped the case would hinge upon the fact that the Swedish prosecutors had not charged Assange and as such the UK would reject the extradition. The European Arrest Warrant should not be allowed, and I understood wasn’t permitted unless there is a case to answer in court. It seemed to me that it had been issued by the Prosecutor’s office in order to “help them with their inquiries”.

The UK’s ancient “Habeas Corpus” rights today ensure that people can only be held for a very short period of time before being charged, unless the courts permit longer due to terrorism concerns, the result of a shameful piece of legislation by the last Government.

I am not sure we should extradite anyone to permit questioning, i.e. we shouldn’t allow foreign police to go trawling for evidence in a way that we deny our own police.

So advice to Mark Stephens, “Stop fannying around about fitness for office, look at the case; are they ready to prosecute or not?”

I am afraid if they are, games up!

2 Comments.

  1. I have thought about this a bit and its not clear to me now.

    The European arrest warrant, should be that, which means in the UK, they i.e. the prosecutors, needs to be ready to charge and place their evidence before a court. However, why shouldn’t we allow other EU investigating magistrates to question suspects.

    I suppose we have law that says you can’t hold in prison people for questioning and we give that right to our citizens and visitors. The Swedes would need to prove their commitment to “Habeas Corpus” before we should send suspects to Sweden without a charge being made.

    Wikipedia still says that the European Arrest Warrant can’t be issued unless a charge is made, but that assumes that all of Europe has the Anglophone, investigate, charge, judge structure of criminal justice, which it obviously doesn’t.

  2. I have been watching Spiral, which reminds me that not all European legal systems match the British one, and so demanding that there is a case to answer before extradition might be a point to far. Helena Kennedy in her article One size cannot fit all argues that we should look a the bigger picture and determine if we think our treaty partners offer a fair trial.