Extradition is a means of ensuring that people who have allegedly committed an offence in Australia can’t escape conviction simply by fleeing to another country.
Under an extradition agreement, a person who is believed to have committed a crime in Australia can be detained in another country, and deported back to Australia to face legal proceedings.
Countries that have extradition agreements with Australia can also request that people who have committed crimes and escaped to Australia be detained and subsequently sent back to the country where the alleged crime was committed to face the justice system there.
A number of countries identify themselves as ‘extradition countries’, which means they are obligated to consider extradition requests, while other countries are under no obligation to consider any requests made.
In Australia, the federal government administers and controls the extradition process, and the federal Attorney General, or the justice minister makes any extradition requests to other countries.
If a request for extradition is made from another country to Australia, the Attorney General or the justice minister will review the request and make the decision as to whether or not to accept it.
If the request is accepted, the person in question will be arrested and a court will determine if the person is eligible for surrender.
If the court determines the person is eligible, they will be remanded into custody while the Attorney General or the justice minister decides whether it is appropriate to surrender them to the country that has requested them.
What countries are considered ‘extradition countries’?
There are a number of countries that have bilateral extradition arrangements with Australia. These are:
- Hong Kong
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates
- United States of America
See here for specific information about the individual treaties with each country, and when they came into effect.
What factors will be taken into consideration when deciding whether to extradite?
Although requests for extradition from the above countries will be considered, they are not automatically granted.
There are a number of exemptions that can lead to extradition being denied and the alleged offender remaining in Australia and either facing the legal system here, or if their offence is not considered a crime under Australian law (dual criminality), potentially being released.
The factors that can potentially lead to extradition being denied include:
- If the alleged offence was political or military in nature.
- If the person being held has already been acquitted, punished or pardoned for behaviour that constitutes the same offence.
- If extradition is sought for the purposes of punishing the person on the basis of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, nationality or political opinion.
- If the person is likely to face prejudice or be detained on the basis of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, nationality or political opinion.
If it is decided that a person is to be extradited from Australia, they will be required to remain in custody unless there are special circumstances that would allow for bail to be granted.
They will be extradited as soon as is practical, and sent to the country that has requested them.