[JURIST Europe] UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke [official profile, JURIST news archive] protested the failure of the United States to ratify the latest US-UK extradition treaty [official PDF text], ratified by the UK parliament in 2003, at a meeting Monday with visiting US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile; JURIST news archive]. Since ratifying the treaty itself, the UK has extradited 12 offenders to the US, whereas the US has extradited only five, including only one in 2005. Congress failure to formally ratify the treaty means that Britain cannot prosecute criminals residing in the US, including suspected pedophiles and sex offenders. 145 MPs have signed a Commons motion [transcript of debate] demanding that Britain cease extraditions to the US until the treaty is ratified.
A senior US official has suggested that US ratification may have been stalled by pressure from the strong Irish-American lobby, which fears requests for the extradition of members of Irish Republican Army [MIPT profile], although British authorities say they are not interested in this in the wake of the Good Friday agreement [BBC backgrounder]. The last ratified version of the treaty dates back to 1972 and contains a statute of limitation which forbids extraditions for offences that occurred more than six years ago. This makes it especially problematic to extradite in cases of child abuse, where victims may not come forward until adulthood. From London, the Times has local coverage.
Tatyana Margolin is an Associate Editor for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. She is based in the UK.