Clause 15 - Death penalty

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:30 pm on 9th January 2003.

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Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 5:30 pm, 9th January 2003

The hon. Gentleman is right. We would need to receive assurances, and they could come from the prosecutor.

We see no reason to involve Ministers in a decision that we believe a district judge is fully competent to take. There have been no cases in living memory in which an assurance has been given and not honoured, and we see no reason why that should change in future.

The judge would need to be satisfied that any such assurance is binding. If the judge is in any doubt about the validity of the undertakings he must refuse to extradite.

By doing away with the possibility of considering such assurances, the Liberal Democrat amendment would remove the possibility of extraditing people to countries where the death penalty could be applied. That could have perverse consequences. It could mean that the UK provided sanctuary for someone accused abroad of the most heinous crimes. While we readily extradite to the same country for less serious crimes, we would not extradite a person because the death penalty was available, despite the fact that we had received cast-iron assurances that the death penalty would not be imposed or would not be carried out. We would extradite for theft but not for murder. The murderer would not be brought to justice. That would be the effect of the amendments. There would be a bar on extradition, despite the fact that those assurances had been given.