Let’s try to deal with the issue of extradition of criminals (or suspects) in a small overview. Extradition is the formal process through which one state requests and seeks the extradition of a suspect or convicted criminal. Extradition between countries is governed by agreements. There may also be transfers of suspects and convicted persons between regions of the same country (for example, between states in the United States), but this is not extradition in the exact meaning of the term.
Extradition can be granted only in respect of certain offences – usually a list or criteria for determining them (severity of punishment, etc.) is established in the treaty. Traditionally, the rule of “dual criminality” must be respected, i.e. the offence for which extradition is requested must be recognized as such under the laws of both the requesting and the requested party. At the same time, the treaties provide for conditions that allow for the refusal of extradition. These mainly include a reasonable suspicion on the part of the requested State that the person is being persecuted for political reasons or that, if extradited, he or she may be subjected to torture or the death penalty.
Extradition treaties and agreements There is some consensus in international law that a country has no obligation to surrender suspected criminals. This stems from the principle of sovereignty over territory. This lack of international obligation and the desire to request criminals from other countries has given rise to a large network of extradition agreements. And it must be said that most countries in the world have signed bilateral agreements with many countries. However, no country in the world today has agreements with every country in the world. For example, the United States does not have extradition treaties with more than fifty countries, including the People’s Republic of China, Namibia and North Korea.
Russian Federation According to world practice, most countries do not extradite their citizens. This principle is enshrined in the constitutions of many states, including the Russian Federation. Russia is a member of the European Convention on Extradition of 1957 and has signed this Convention with reservations which prohibit the extradition of Russian nationals. Article 61 of the Russian Constitution states that a citizen of the Russian Federation may not be expelled or extradited to another State. The same provisions exist in Israeli law.
EU countries All EU countries have legal agreements between them to allow for the extradition of their nationals. The UK, under the Extradition Act 2003, is obliged to extradite including its nationals to a number of states with which it has relevant intergovernmental agreements. The situation is similar in the US. The most progress in facilitating extradition has been made by the member states of the European Union, which have introduced the so-called “European Arrest Warrant” between them. In fact, it involves the automatic execution of a request for the surrender of an alleged offender, without checking that request for content.
Extradition proceedings: Extradition proceedings begin with a request from one State to another. It is common to make the request either in the language of the requested party or in one of the languages of international communication (English, French – depending on the requirement of the requested party). Requests are transmitted either through the ministries of foreign affairs or directly through the law enforcement agencies (ministries of internal affairs, justice, prosecutor’s offices, etc.). If the alleged offender is apprehended in the requested State, the judicial procedure is initiated. The role of the court is to confirm that the request is legally justified and that all relevant requirements have been met. If the court rejects the request, the procedure is terminated. If the court confirms the possibility of extradition, the decision is taken by the administrative authorities. The final decision to extradite a person is considered to be political in nature.
Current trends There is a trend in contemporary international law to simplify extradition procedures. In particular, there is the relaxation of the “dual criminality” requirements, the reduction of the number of grounds for refusal of extradition, and the reduction of the role of administrative authorities. A hindrance to this process is the unwillingness of States to unconditionally recognize arrest warrants issued in other countries, owing to different judicial systems and sometimes distrust of each other.
And a little FAQ from a lawyer:
Question: What is the situation with extradition of citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis (citizenship is easily purchased through purchase of real estate) to Ukraine? Answer: Citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis can be extradited to countries with which St. Kitts has a treaty providing for extradition. St. Kitts and Nevis has such treaties with the United States, Canada and Great Britain. In addition to these treaties there is the so-called Fugitive Offenders Act which provides that persons who have committed offences in any country of the British Commonwealth may be extradited. The Act is part of the laws of all Commonwealth countries. There is no extradition treaty with Ukraine or Russia.