The disturbing case of Richard O’Dwyer, like those of the other British men facing extradition – Talha Ahsan, Gary McKinnon, and Babar Ahmad – has exposed the serious bias and injustice embedded in the US-UK extradition treaty of 2003, which gives the US government disproportionate control over the fate of UK citizens (Richard O’Dwyer: an unfair, absurd case, Editorial, 25 June).
Six months ago, the Commons passed a motion calling on the government to urgently reform the deeply flawed extradition arrangements. In March, there was more cause for hope when President Obama and the prime minister announced a joint initiative to look into the treaty. Since then, my early day motion calling for a halt to further extraditions until the legislation is amended has attracted cross-party support. Yet today we are still waiting for action from this government. Ahmad and Ahsan have been detained in the UK without charge or trial, under threat of extradition to the US, for eight and six years respectively. That neither has been tried on British soil, despite the fact that any alleged offences are said to have occurred here, is unacceptable. In Babar’s case, evidence gathered was sent by the police to the US authorities, circumnavigating the CPS. He is due to be extradited in weeks and could face solitary confinement in “supermax” conditions. We cannot continue to allow British justice to be outsourced to the US in this way. To uphold the rights of UK citizens and the rule of British law, the government must bring in the urgent legislation called for by parliament to reform this dangerously asymmetric treaty.
Caroline Lucas, MP
Green, Brighton Pavilion
• Every year hundreds of people, like O’Dwyer, receive a knock on the door by the British police to be told they are wanted for trial or to serve a sentence in another country. Sadly, the ordeal of extradition mostly follows soon after the first visit by the police. The problem is that after 9/11 our politicians were gung ho about removing vital safeguards from our extradition laws. As a result the UK courts repeatedly say they cannot stop even the most shocking cases of injustice. For O’Dwyer and others, this is compounded by the long arm of US law and no transparent process for deciding where trials should happen. The UK government could tackle many of the problems without jeopardising extradition arrangements with the rest of the world. The power to delay extradition until a country is ready for trial, say, would prevent innocent people spending months in foreign jails before their trial even starts. Our courts could also be trusted with the power to refuse extradition where it is obvious the requesting country is not the right forum for a trial.
Chief executive, Fair Trials International