Jun 11, 2009 News
Attorney General and Minister of Affairs, Charles Ramson, is gearing to table in the National Assembly, the Fugitive Offenders (Amendment) Bill that will allow Guyana to lawfully extradite fugitives to Commonwealth or Treaty Territories such as the United States of America.
According to the explanatory memorandum accompanying the Bill that was recently published in the Official Gazette; “The Court of Appeal in King v Director of Prisons [(1992) 47 W.I.R 210] held that the 1931 U.K.-USA treaty impliedly provided in Article 7 of that treaty that a person once extradited to the USA will not be re-extradited to a third country.”
It was also pointed out that on the contrary, “the Full Court of the High Court of the Supreme Court of Judicature in its decision dated 10th December, 2008 in Barry Dataram’s case, held that there is no implied condition of prohibition of re-extradition of a fugitive offender to a third country emerging from the 1931 U.K.-USA treaty.”
That matter was heard before Chief Justice (ag) Ian Chang who had ruled against the extradition of Dataram to the US in that, that country could subsequently extradite to a third country.
The explanatory memorandum stated, “In order to give due recognition to the judicial architecture of Guyana where the ruling of the Court of Appeal is binding on all inferior Courts of record in Guyana, it is considered necessary to clarify the extant law as settled by the Court of Appeal on the statute book itself, thereby ensuring the empowerment of the Minister of Home Affairs to accede to a request for extradition of certain fugitive offenders or class or category of fugitive offenders to a Commonwealth country or a treaty territory to meet the ends of justice.”
It was also pointed out that this new legislation is to ensure speedy extradition of fugitive offenders without waiting for the making of provision in its laws by the requesting Commonwealth country or making a provision in a treaty with the treaty territory for the prevention of re-extradition as referred to in the extant law.
Under the proposed legislation a person may be extradited from Guyana to any Commonwealth country or treaty territory and prior to the extradition, be committed to, or kept in, custody for the purpose of the extradition providing the criteria has been satisfied. The United States is a treaty territory
The new legislation, if approved, also points out that the right to complain of infractions, if any, in the extradition arrangements lies in the asylum state and the person whose extradition is sought is not entitled so to complain to the Court in any proceedings.
Furthermore, the treaty between Guyana and the United States does not prevent the United States from extraditing Guyanese citizens to a third country, something that had been pronounced on by the Guyana Court of Appeal.
Chief Justice Chang had recently handed down a ruling to this effect, much to the displeasure of the United States.
Recently a British legal expert, Queens Counsel Paul Garlick, when asked about the treaty, said that Guyana inherited many of its laws from the British.
He said that treaties with Commonwealth countries do not allow for further extradition to third countries.
“This issue does not arise,” Garlick said.
He said that as it relates to the United States, this is indeed a difficult situation that will require difficult answers. Garlick said that Guyana could enter into diplomatic negotiations with the United States, seeking assurances that there will be no extradition to third countries.
However, there is no guarantee that the assurance would be kept.
The next possible solution is a modification of the laws. Because of this impasse, the United States had engaged Guyana in discussions toward modifying the law to allow for continued extradition to the United Sates.
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