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France and Germany and others will not extradite some criminal suspects to Britain because of Brexit


Ten countries, including Germany and France, will no longer extradite their nationals to the UK after Brexit ended the country’s participation in the European Arrest Warrants scheme.

The decision was announced by the government on Friday in correspondence with the House of Lords EU Committee.

A letter from the Home Office told the committee that Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden will be ‘invoking constitutional rules as a reason not to extradite their own nationals to the UK.’  

Additionally, Austria and the Czech Republic will only extradite their nationals to the UK with their consent. 

The move does not apply to foreign nationals living or staying in the ten countries, Austria or the Czech Republic.

According to Home Office guidance, the UK will ‘as a matter of policy, extradite its own nationals, providing no bars to extradition apply’. 

Such bars include human rights concerns, for example extraditing a UK national to a country where they might receive the death penalty for an alleged crime. 

Ten countries, including Germany and France, will no longer extradite their nationals to the UK after Brexit ended the country's participation in the European Arrest Warrants scheme. The decision was announced by the government on Friday in correspondence with the House of Lords EU Committee [Stock photo]

Ten countries, including Germany and France, will no longer extradite their nationals to the UK after Brexit ended the country’s participation in the European Arrest Warrants scheme. The decision was announced by the government on Friday in correspondence with the House of Lords EU Committee [Stock photo]

Following Brexit, the UK is no longer part of the European Arrest Warrants scheme which streamlines the extradition process between EU member states.

Under the scheme, countries are required to send a criminal suspect to the member state that issued the warrant for trial or to enforce the completion of a jail sentence. 

Introduced in 2004, it has been used for cases involving high-profile terrorists, drug smugglers and murderers.   

Now, the UK may have to attempt prosecutions in other countries or liaise with Interpol in the hope that a suspect leaves their home nation and can be caught elsewhere.  

The UK drew up a new extradition process as part of its post-Brexit security agreement, however it does not have the same power as the European Arrest Warrant scheme, which can bypass strict constitutional restrictions on transferring nationals. 

EU countries can also opt not to surrender suspected criminals to the UK if the alleged offence does not exist in their country or if it is a ‘political’ crime. 

Richard Martin, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on Brexit planning previously said that a new national extradition unit had been formed in December.

He told the Home Affairs Committee that there were two options for police if countries refused to extradite suspects.

‘One is we work with the Crown Prosecution Service and decide whether it is in the public interest to try and prosecute these individuals in their home countries.

‘The second is we circulate them anyway on Interpol because as soon as they enter another country they’re fair game, so we can arrest them in that country and bring them back.’ 

The new extradition arrangements are ‘untested’ and their ‘operational effectiveness’ should be scrutinised a report published by the Lords EU Committee on Friday said. 

A letter from the Home Office told the committee that Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden will be 'invoking constitutional rules as a reason not to extradite their own nationals to the UK.' Additionally, Austria and the Czech Republic will only extradite their nationals to the UK with their consent. The move does not apply to foreign nationals living or staying in the ten countries, Austria or the Czech Republic [Stock photo]

A letter from the Home Office told the committee that Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden will be ‘invoking constitutional rules as a reason not to extradite their own nationals to the UK.’ Additionally, Austria and the Czech Republic will only extradite their nationals to the UK with their consent. The move does not apply to foreign nationals living or staying in the ten countries, Austria or the Czech Republic [Stock photo]

According to a summary of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the UK’s extradition agreements are now ‘akin to the EU’s Surrender Agreement with Norway and Iceland, but with appropriate further safeguards for individuals beyond those in the European Arrest Warrant.’

Norway and Iceland’s agreement largely mirrors the European Arrest Warrant and includes limited grounds for refusal to surrender own nationals and strict time limits on execution of warrants.

The UK-EU agreement includes these limited grounds of refusal and time limits as well as ‘additional provisions which make clear that a person’s surrender can be refused if their fundamental rights are at risk, extradition would be disproportionate, or they are likely to face long periods of pre-trial detention.

‘Where extradition of own nationals from certain EU Member States is not possible due to their constitutional principles, we have ensured there is nevertheless a path to justice in every case, for example, by obliging EU Member States to refer cases to their own prosecution authorities,’ the agreement reads.



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