An Appraisal Of The Concept And Practice Of Extradition Under International Law




1.1 Introduction
There is a universal righteous indignation against crimes as constituting a clog in the wheels of peace, security and progress of society. Consequently, the fight against international crimeshave over the years become a subject of concern amongst sovereign states.This is more particularly because these sovereigns dearly desire to develop a mechanism either in the form of bilateral or multilateral treaty that will effectively prosecute international criminals without offending the sovereignty of a sister state and without compromising the doctrine of inviolability under international law. This is the primary philosophy behind the birth of the concept and practice of extradition under international law.The word “extradition” is derived from the Latin words“ex” and “traditum” which means to “deliver from”[1] . It basically, involves the process whereby, under a treaty or on reciprocity, one state surrenders to another state, at its request, a person accused or convicted of a criminal offence committed against the law of the requesting state for trial or sentence[2] . The practice of extradition is in the interest of all nations; Lord Russell, in Re-Arton3 captures the philosophy behind the practice of extradition in the following terms:

The law of extradition is founded upon the broad principle, that it is in the interest of civilized communities that crimes should not go unpunished, and it is part of the comity of nations that one state should afford to anotherevery assistance towards bringing persons guilty of such crimes to justice.

Fundamentally, the concept and practice of extradition under International Law was a mechanism developed by the conference of sovereign states, predicated on the notions and basic principles of neighborliness and reciprocity with the aim of combating international crimes and apprehension of fugitive offenders[3] .The concept and practice of extradition dates back to the ancient middle age and far eastern civilization. It was perceived as a matter of courtesy and goodwill between sovereigns[4] . The subject of extradition is much older than modern International law[5] and pre-dates even the origin of modern concept of nation-state based on organized rules of international behavior. Without extradition, international criminal offenders would be able to escape justice by moving from one country to another as it not possible for foreign authorities to arrest a fugitive offender in another country without extradition. Extradition allows countries to make request for another country to arrest and transfer a fugitive offender in order to prosecute, convict, sentence or enforce an already imposed sentence on them.

The reality on ground is that if the ills associated with the practice of extradition internationally are not curbed in good time, diplomatic relations are most likely to become unhealthy amongst sovereign states; international criminals will surely make head-way in their nefarious activities; and the original philosophy behind the concept and practice of extradition which is to curb international crimes will be lost. This research appraises the concept, practice and procedure of extradition under International Law. It is, therefore, a modest effort to delve into the slippery legal terrain governing the trend and the various manifestations of the intricacies associated with extradition, especially in our contemporary era where there is high tendency among our world leaders and some prominent individuals to abuse public office or commit some nauseating crimes and attempt to seek for asylum elsewhere.

1.2 Statement of the Problem
This research work has identified the following as problems associated with the concept and practice of extradition under international law.

The obligation of state parties to extradition agreements has been hampered by the political offence exception under the law of extradition. Political offence exception has a firm root and history under the law of extradition. It is good that offences with characterization of politics should not be within the extraditable offences. This is because they are not naturally or traditionally core offence with all the ingredients of what constitutes an “offence” or “crime”. However, political offence is an exception, and a concept which is troublesome in the determination of extraditable offences. It is disheartening to learn that some fugitives hide under this exception to escape the wrath of the law.

The reluctance of some countries to subscribe to the principle of reciprocity and international morality in considering a request for extradition is another challenge facing the practice of extradition. There is a misconception as to the fact that the doctrine of reciprocity is the foundation upon which a successful practice of extradition resides. As it is, the doctrine of reciprocity has less potency and minimal viability due to the reluctance of some states to subscribe to its practical operation. It is, at best, effective only in theory. The attitude of these states has made their territories a Haven for fugitive criminals. We have seen this attitude in the

United Kingdom and Ivory Coast, on the extradition requests by Nigeria over Umaru Dikko[6] , and Ojukwu[7] . The recent one, is that of Buruji Kashamu, where the Nigeria government, under Jonathan administration was reluctant to extradite the fugitive to the United States of America, despite the extradition treaty between Nigeria and the United States of America9.

Another major challenge is the inherent loop holes in the laws of extradition with particular reference to the doctrine of political offence exception. It is disheartening to learn that bilateral and multilateral extraditiontreaties, and municipal extradition laws of state parties have made political offence as an exception to extraditable offences, but contain no provision geared towards the ingredients of a political offence that are of universal application.[8] As it is, an offence of a political character is determined by a requested state. As a result of this legal challenge, different nations ascribe diverse meanings to political offence.

Another problem facing the practice of extradition is Jurisdictional Matters. Whether extradition proceedings are to be conducted domesticallyor internationally have seriously hampered the development of this area of law. Extradition proceedings are conducted by the requested state who is the complainant, the prosecutor and the judge. This is difficult to be reconciled with the fair hearing principle of memo judex in causasua, especially where the fugitive is a national of that requested state. In this circumstance, prosecution hardly yields positive results, if the legal process of prosecution and sanction is often controlled by the fugitive‟s sympathizers.

1.3   Aim and Objectives of the Research 
This research work seeks to achieve the following aim and objectives.

This research work aim at tracing the history and development of the practice of extradition under International Law and appraising the nature, scope and principles of extradition with the following objectives:

To ascertain whether the original philosophy behind the birth and practice of extradition amongst sovereign states still exists;
To trace the basis of the political offence exception. In order to identify those who have a historic claim to the political offence exception under the law of extradition,
To identify the definitive inadequacy of the concept of political offence and how it has hampered the smooth practice of extradition internationally;
Tocritically examine the concept of political offence exception under the law of extradition in order to determine its relevance in today‟s international relation with a view to ensuring that the doctrine does not become a shield to perpetrators of crimes and other illegal activities.
[1] . Hingorani, R.C. (1969).The Indian Extradition Law. Asia publishing House, London, p. 5

[2] Umozorike, U. O. (2010).Introduction to International Law. Spectrum books, Ibadan, Nigeria,p.160 3 (1896) 1Q. B 108 page 11

[3] Ibid

[4] Okeke, C.N. (1986).The Theory and Practice of International Law in Nigeria: Fourth Dimension Publishing Co. Ltd, Enugu, p.103.

[5] Ibid page 103

[6] Daily times, July 12, 1984

[7] Ojukwu, E.O. (1989). Becayse I am involved, fourth Dimension, Enugu 9 Op. Cit. P. 62

[8] Example, section 3, Nigerian Extradition Act Cap E25 .L.F.N. 2004 provide that the fugitive shall not be surrender if the Attorney General or a court dealing with the case is satisfied that the offence in respect of which his surrender is sought is an offence of a political character. However the Act does not define what political offences are, but only leaves same to be determined by either the Attorney  General or the Court. Even the Interpretation section 8 of the Act does not define political offence.


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