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UK-US extradition treaty in the spotlight as lords question US legal experts

23 July 2014

The House of Lords Select Committee on Extradition Law questioned experts on the US justice system, as well as a representative of an advocacy organisation, on Wednesday 23 July, as part of their ongoing inquiry.

The Committee is investigating whether the Act is an adequate framework for public inquiries which are fit for purpose, cost-effective and command public confidence.

Witnesses

On Wednesday 23 July, in Committee Room 2, at approximately 10.10am

  • Roger Burlingame, Kobre & Kim LLP and a former US Prosecutor; and
  • Isabella Sankey, Director of Policy at Liberty;

and, at approximately 11.30am, by video link,

  • Amy Jeffress, former Department of Justice Attaché to the US Embassy in London, and currently Partner at Arnold & Porter in Washington DC

Purpose of the Session

The Committee explored with the first panel issues including whether the UK-US Extradition Treaty is balanced; the processes involved in extraditing an individual from the US, and how this compares to processes in the UK; and if the UK-US extradition arrangements are fit for purpose in an era of international, cross-border crime.

The Committee also followed up on comments about the justice system in the US made in earlier evidence by Sir Scott Baker who said:

"There are certainly features of the American criminal justice system that are unattractive to UK residents. Their plea-bargaining is a great deal more vigorous … It is very unsatisfactory to see people who have been extradited for white-collar crime being led off in chains from the aircraft by US marshals. The prison conditions, in some instances, leave a great deal to be desired. However, the bottom line on all of this is: are we satisfied that individuals can have a fair trial in the United States or whatever other country it may be?"

The Committee explored the UK-US Extradition Treaty further in their second session, when Amy Jeffress faced questions from the Committee including:

  • Why do you think the British public is so concerned about extradition arrangements with the US? 
  • Is it valid to criticise the US for seeking to extradite people who have committed crimes while in countries outside the US?
  • How do effective extradition arrangements support the UK’s broader engagement with the US on matters of security?
  • How do UK and US prosecutors work together, and should this process be more transparent?

Further Information