Extradition is the legal process by which an individual who has been accused or convicted of a crime in one jurisdiction (the “requesting state”) is surrendered to another jurisdiction (the “requested state”) where the individual is wanted for trial or to serve a sentence. The process of extradition is governed by international treaties, which are agreements between two or more countries that outline the legal framework for extradition.
The history of extradition dates back to ancient times, when Greek and Roman law recognized the concept of extraditing individuals who had fled from one city-state to another. In medieval Europe, the practice of extradition was codified in the laws of various countries, including England, France, and Spain.
First Modern Extradition Treaties
One of the first modern extradition treaties was the Treaty of Madrid, which was signed in 1721 between Britain and Spain. This treaty established the principle of “dual criminality,” which means that a person can only be extradited if the crime they are accused of is also a crime in both the requesting and the requested states.
Over the next few centuries, many other countries signed extradition treaties with one another, and the practice of extradition became increasingly common. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the United States played a leading role in the development of extradition treaties, and it signed a number of treaties with European and Latin American countries.
In the latter half of the 20th century, the number of extradition treaties grew rapidly, as more and more countries recognized the importance of international cooperation in law enforcement. Today, there are hundreds of extradition treaties in force around the world, and the practice of extradition is an integral part of the global justice system.
While the process of extradition is generally seen as a valuable tool for bringing criminals to justice, it has also been the subject of controversy and criticism. In some cases, individuals who have been extradited have claimed that they were denied due process or were subject to mistreatment in the requesting state. There have also been cases where countries have refused to extradite individuals on the grounds that they could face the death penalty in the requesting state, which is prohibited under many extradition treaties.
History of Extradition: High Profile Cases
In recent years, the use of extradition has come under scrutiny in some cases involving high-profile individuals. For example, in 2010, the government of the United States requested the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from the United Kingdom. Assange was wanted in the US on charges related to the publication of classified documents. Assange remains in a UK prison while appealing the decision to send him to the US.
Another high-profile extradition case occurred in 2019, when the US requested the extradition of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou from Canada. Meng was wanted in the US on charges of violating US sanctions against Iran. The Canadian government ultimately decided not to extradite Meng. She returned to China but the case sparked a diplomatic dispute between the US and China.
These cases demonstrate the complexities and challenges of the extradition process. While extradition can be an effective tool for bringing criminals to justice, it can also raise difficult legal and diplomatic issues. As the global justice system continues to evolve, it will be important for countries to carefully consider these issues and to ensure that the process of extradition is fair and just for all involved.
History of Extradition: Cybercrime
One issue that has been the subject of debate in recent years is the role of extradition in cases involving cybercrime. As the internet has become an increasingly important part of daily life, the number of crimes committed online has also increased. In many cases, these crimes cross national borders, making extradition a crucial tool for bringing cybercriminals to justice.
However, the process of extradition can be difficult in cases involving cybercrime. In some cases, the laws of the requesting and requested states may not be aligned, making it difficult to establish dual criminality. In other cases, the technical nature of the crime may make it difficult to gather the evidence needed to support an extradition request.
To address these challenges, many countries have signed extradition treaties that specifically address cybercrime. These treaties often include provisions that allow for the extradition of individuals who have committed crimes online, even if the laws of the requesting and requested states are not aligned. Additionally, these treaties often provide for cooperation between law enforcement agencies in different countries, which can help to facilitate the extradition process in cases involving cybercrime.
Despite these efforts, the extradition of individuals accused of cybercrime remains a complex and challenging issue. As the use of technology continues to evolve, it will be important for countries to continue to update their extradition treaties and to find ways to effectively address the issue of cybercrime.
Despite these challenges, the practice of extradition remains an important part of the global justice system, and it is likely to continue to play a significant role in the years to come.