Monday, 1 June 2020

Britain and EU set to clash over new extradition treaty in crunch trade talks

Britain and EU set to clash over new extradition treaty in crunch trade talksBritish and EU negotiators are set to clash over the terms of a new extradition treaty during a crunch round of trade talks with Brussels, which start on Tuesday. The UK will demand its judges have greater powers to refuse EU extradition requests than under the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) system it must leave at the end of the year. Warrants could be dismissed if there had not yet been a decision to charge or try the wanted suspect to prevent long periods of pre-trial detention, under the British plan, or if the UK courts think the cost of an arrest outweighs the seriousness of the offence. The European Commission wants EU courts to be able to refuse UK extradition requests for suspects facing whole life sentences unless Britain undertakes to review the penalty either on request or, at the latest, 20 years after the sentence. Whole life sentences have been subject to failed legal challenges on the basis they break the European Convention on Human Rights. The UK has refused to commit to never leaving the Convention during the negotiations, which is an EU condition for continued criminal database sharing, but insists it won’t leave it. Brussels also wants judges to refuse extradition requests if they believe they are motivated by the suspect's “sex, race, religion, ethnic origin, nationality, language, political opinions or sexual orientation”. The EAW replaced bilateral extradition agreements between countries with a much faster system that involved the judiciary directly rather than politicians. It was agreed, with British support, two months after 9/11. Brexiteers later argued that carrying out arrests on the orders of foreign magistrates was an affront to national sovereignty. The Government’s refusal to allow any future role for the European Court of Justice in Britain after Brexit means a replacement extradition system must be agreed before the end of the transition period. If the deadline isn’t met by January 1, the UK will fall back on 1956 rules for extradition which are far slower. The UK and EU must also finalise a free trade agreement by December 31, unless Downing Street caves on its repeated insistence it won’t extend transition, or be forced to trade on less lucrative WTO terms.




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