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The absent dialogue: Extradition and the international covenant on civil and political rights

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • Extradition, as a cross-border act, inevitably involves both domestic and international law. For most states, the terms and conditions of extradition are governed by both treaty and statute, with the obligation to extradite flowing from an extradition treaty. Human rights treaties, however, are also relevant to extradition - most notably, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which aims at securing a set of universal safeguardsfor the protection of all. For 30 years, the UN Human Rights Committee has adjudicated cases involving extradition under the ICCPR, creating a body ofjurisprudence that clearly identifies a human rights element to extradition. The author reviews this corpus of persuasive but non-binding decisions. Her analysis confirms that the human rights treaty imposes a limited but clear obligation on extraditing states; they must protect a fugitive from future serious ill treatment in the receiving state. The author is critical of the failure of the Supreme Court of Canada and the House of Commons to acknowledge this international extradition jurisprudence in domestic extradition proceedings. She questions why, when faced with a subject so inherently international, the domestic courts fail to acknowledge the decisions of the UN Human Rights Committee, particularly those involving Canada. For the author, this absence of dialogue is inconsistent with Canada's decision to grant individuals the right of international petition. The author seeks to improve the accessibility of international extradition jurisprudence and to increase awareness of its relevance, with the ultimate aim of prompting a true engagement by Canadian courts with a widely ignored body of case law.

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  • Type of Item
    Article (Published)
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  • License
    © 2006 J. Harrington and the Queen's Law Journal. Archived with permission.
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  • Citation for previous publication
    • Harrington, J. (2006). The absent dialogue: Extradition and the international covenant on civil and political rights. Queen’s Law Journal, 32(1), 82-134. Retrieved from
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