The contrasting evolution of the right to a fair trial in UK extradition law.
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ARNELL, P. . The contrasting evolution of the right to a fair trial in UK extradition law. International journal of human rights [online], (accepted).
Extradition is a process whereby accused and convicted persons are lawfully transferred across borders from one territory to another. It is unquestionably important. It serves material public purposes. Lord Thomas in Polish Judicial Authorities v Celinski stated that there is: "... a constant and weighty public interest in extradition that those accused of crimes should be brought to trial; that those convicted of crimes should serve their sentences; that the UK should honour its international obligations and the UK should not become a safe haven." Balanced against these interests are factors including the human rights of requested persons. The challenge facing extradition law is to reasonably accommodate the conflicting interests at play. That process takes place in the context of UK law and public international law and is conditioned by public policy concerns. The accommodation has worked reasonably well. Cases that have engendered notable criticisms have been relatively rare. A particular challenge for the law, though, has been posed by article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 (ECHR), protecting the right to a fair trial. Article 6 stands apart from those ECHR rights that play a meaningful role in UK extradition law and practice. Its role is partial and limited in law and fact. It is also one that has experienced contrasting fortunes. Whilst the right has come to have a degree of applicability within the UK in extradition hearings, its extraterritorial operation has been restricted. This article analyses the limited role of the right to a fair trial in extradition, and highlights the contrasting evolution between UK extradition hearings and trials abroad.