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05/7 a (2) [Mar. 5th, 2005|12:29 pm]
Private-Intellectual Debating Society


From: Home Office
7th Floor
50 Queen Anne's Gate

3 March 2005

Dear ...

Thank you for your letter addressed to the Prime Minister dated 24 January 2005 about the US/UK bilateral extradition treaty. The Home Office has the lead in extradition matters and your letter has been passed to me to reply.

The new Treaty was signed on 31 March 2003 by the Home Secretary and the US Attorney General. The text of the treaty was published as a Command Paper on 22 May 2003, in accordance with the normal proceedures. The Command Papeer is available, with an Explanatory Memorandum, on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's website, at www.foc.gov.uk. The full text of the Treaty can also be found on the FCO website.

The purpose of the new Treaty is to simplify and modernise the UK's extradition arrangements with the United States. These arrangements were previously based on a Treaty initially negotiated in 1972 that will be terminated by the new Treaty.

The Treaty offers the UK a number of benefits. For example, it replaces the system of defining an extradition offence by a list of specific crimes with a 'sentence threshold' system. The sentence threshold means that extradition can be requested for any offence that extracts a maximum penalty of at least 12 months' detention in either territory. This is important as certain crimes exist today, such as computer-related crime, which were unknown when the initial treaty was drawn up in 1972 and, as such, do not appear on the list of extraditable offences.

The Treaty was given effect in the UK by the Extradition Act 2003 ('the 2003 Act'), which came into force on 1 January 2004. A copy of the Act can be found at www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk/acts/acts2003/20030041.htm.

With regards to your concerns about jurisdiction, I would draw your attention to sections 137 and 138 of the 2003 Act which covers this area from a UK perspective. You will understand that we cannot comment on US procedures.

Your letter goes on to mention the removal of the statute of limitations condition for extradition. A Statute of Limitations is a matter for law of the country concerned. I can confirm that a statute of limitations is not a bar to extradition as far as the UK is concerned, as long as the offence for which a person is requested meets the sentence threshold criteria laid down in the 2003 Act. The question of passage of time since alleged offences can be considered by a Judge under section 82 of the 2003 Act.

Finally, your letter mentions the detention of 'individuals without charge for unspecified periods of time' at Guantanamo Bay and prisons in the UK. In the UK, a small number of individuals are detained under Part 4 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, but this is not an internment power, as your letter seems to suggest, but rather an immigration power which allows for the extended detantion of suspected international terrorists who we are not currently able to remove from the UK, pending their ultimate deportation. The detainees are free to leave the country voluntarily at any time. As you will know, this is an area of the law that is being revised under the Prevention of Terrorism Bill that is currently before the UK Parliament.

I hope that you will find this information useful.

Yours sincerely,

Rob McMorran
Extradition Policy Section.

Original letter here.