Extradition is a way of ensuring that those suspected of crimes cannot avoid prosecution by fleeing to another country.
As previously reported, the federal government administers and controls the extradition process in Australia. The federal Attorney General or Justice Minister can make an extradition request to another country, and will take a number of factors into account when deciding whether to make that request, including the nature and seriousness of the allegations.
There are several online forums that list the countries with which Australia has bilateral extradition treaty arrangements.
However, those who think they can avoid extradition from a country that is not on the list should beware that Australia also has a number of additional cooperative arrangements.
And even if the country is not party to any arrangement at all, its domestic laws may still allow for extradition.
Countries with Bilateral Treaty-Based Agreements
Australia has entered bilateral treaty-based extradition arrangements with the following countries:
- Hong Kong
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates
- United States of America
These nations are sometimes called ‘extradition countries’.
But as stated, the mere fact that a country is not listed does not mean a person will avoid extradition.
International Crime Cooperation Arrangements
In addition to treaty-based agreements, Australia has entered several crime cooperation arrangements which may be used to facilitate the return of suspects.
Australia has these arrangements with:
- Akrotiri and Dhekelia (Sovereign Cyprus)
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- British Antarctic Territory
- British Indian Ocean Territory
- British Virgin Islands
- Brunei Darussalam
- Cayman Islands
- Cook Islands
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- El Salvador
- Falkland islands
- Macedonia, The former Yugoslav Republic
- Marshall islands
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands
- San Marino
- Sierra Leone
- Solomon Islands
- South Georgia and Sandwich Islands
- Sri Lanka
- St Helena
- St Helena Dependencies
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- United Kingdom
- Western Samoa
In addition to the above, there are a number of international instruments relating to specific offence types that have been ratified into domestic law by Australia and several other countries. Those laws may also facilitate extradition from countries who are signatories.
The offence categories include:
- Aviation offences
- Corruption in public office, including bribery of public officials
- War crimes
- Genocide and other crimes against humanity
- Taking hostages
- Crimes against diplomats
- Money laundering
- Narcotics trafficking
- Crimes against UN personnel
- Transnational organised crime
- Child trafficking
In addition to all of this, a country may agree to extradite a suspect under its domestic law in the absence of any mutual arrangement. A famous example was Mexico’s temporary decision to allow for the extradition to the US of notorious drug lord Pablo Escabar. In that case, extradition did not ultimately take place because Escabar was killed by law enforcement authorities on home soil.
At the end of the day, the question of whether a person is likely to be extradited to face charges in Australia will largely depend on:
- The country they are in,
- The nature of the mutual arrangement, and
- The type and seriousness of the allegation.
Any assessment of the likelihood of extradition is therefore case-specific.
The world is becoming a smaller place.