Clause 15 - Death penalty

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

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

It is not necessary to draw the Secretary of State back into those decisions because we are concerned with category 1 countries and our EU colleagues. However, the reason that we included the clause in part 1 is that it is theoretically possible that a country which retains the death penalty for a limited range of offences could be added to category 1, or that one of the category 1 countries might take the decision to introduce the death penalty for a limited range of offences. It is worth retaining the clause as a useful safeguard.

Assurances in respect of the death penalty are a long-standing feature of extradition, and so I am not surprised that hon. Members are aware of them. Most extradition procedures occur without much publicity,

with the exception of the Pinochet case, as my hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley, North and Sefton, East mentioned. The other exceptions might be cases that become notorious because of the length of time it has taken for them to reach the public domain.

Assurances with regard to the death penalty play an important role, not least because we believe that it should be possible to extradite in cases in which the fugitive might be eligible to receive the death penalty. Such assurances must come from a person who is competent to issue them and must bind the bodies that impose and carry out the sentence. The assurances will not necessarily come from a country's Executive, which is the usual argument for involving British Ministers. They could, for example, come from the prosecutor concerned who has discretion as to whether to seek the death penalty. That will continue to be the case under the Bill.