Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill

8th September 2020

Andrew Mitchell raises the unfairness of the US asymmetric approach to extradition.

My right hon. Friend is making a characteristically sensible and robust speech. Does he agree that at the moment the international rules-based system is under great pressure but matters hugely to all of us? Is the case of the United States not an example of a totally asymmetric approach to extradition and will that asymmetry not be seen by people in Britain as most unfair and as bringing the whole process into disrepute?

My right hon. Friend is right on several counts, and I will elaborate on the unfairness in a second, but he is right also to highlight something else, which is that international rules-based systems work only if everyone sees them treating all countries and their citizens identically. If they do not do that, they fall down. An American exceptionalist approach, therefore, destroys the systems we are trying to uphold. So there is an interesting philosophical point in his intervention, as well as the moral one that I will major on.

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It is not just a case of lack of reciprocity. The people in the NatWest case, which my right hon. Friend mentioned, had no case to answer according to the British authorities, yet in spite of that they were extradited. That is an appalling abuse of their human rights.

My right hon. Friend is exactly right. Interestingly, in their case human rights were not used as a defence mechanism, whereas in another case the only thing that stopped Gary McKinnon being extradited was the implementation of the human rights law. My right hon. Friend is right more generally, too; they did not have a case to answer in a normal justice system, but they gave in and confessed to guilt rather than face 30 years in a grim high-security Texan prison, never seeing their families again, which is what this would have amounted to. That illustrates where the disparity lies, and why it is so unfair.

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