Clause 15 - Death penalty

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:00 pm on 9th January 2003.

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Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change) 5:00 pm, 9th January 2003

I shall speak in support of Liberal Democrat amendment No. 138, which has been moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Torridge and West Devon. Subsection (2) is incredible; I have never seen anything quite like it. Will the Minister tell us from whom it is anticipated that the written assurance will come? Will it come from an independent third party in the country that is seeking extradition, a jurist in this country or some other source from within Government? In any event, it would require a remarkable amount of second guessing on someone's part. The availability of the death sentence must surely be a sufficient barrier to extradition, and to have someone say, ''Well, yes, we know we can carry out the death penalty, but we don't often do it'' is wrong. The sentence imposed at the end of a trial will often be capricious, dependent on the judge in question and something that cannot properly be second guessed at the start of the trial. For all those reasons, it is unsatisfactory for subsection (2) to be in the Bill. The statement in subsection (1) is clear, concise and consistent with our obligations under the European convention on human rights, as my hon. Friend has already said.

I am less than impressed by the idea of political scrutiny in the Conservative amendment No. 32. I do not consider such mixing of the Executive and judiciary to be healthy, and one can easily imagine circumstances in which a Secretary of State's trade, political or other considerations might influence his view of whether it is in Britain's interests to upset a foreign power by not agreeing to an extradition. My point is that a judge must be concerned with the rights of the individual who is before him, while a Secretary of State will inevitably have wider considerations.

Mixing the powers of the Executive and judiciary in such a way would be undesirable to say the least.