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What Is Extradition?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2014
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Extradition is legal process that allows a person to be transferred from one country or state to another against his will. This process is used when a person who is accused of a crime or who has been convicted but has evaded his sentence is known to be in another country or region. This legal tool seeks to prevent people from using judicial borders to escape justice.

A country's criminal justice system is generally limited to the area within its borders. Officials from one country cannot travel to another and arrest people that they want to charge with crimes. Even if the person has already been charged and convicted, he cannot be arrested by foreign authorities.

If extradition did not exist, this means that people could escape justice by moving from one country to another. To prevent this from happening, there is a legal process which allows one country to request that another country arrest and transfer individuals who need to face justice.

There are generally a number of requirements that must be met if a country wishes to make an extradition request or before a country accepts one. For example, in the United Kingdom (UK), admissible evidence that establishes a case must be submitted with the requests from most countries.

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These requests are generally handled by specific authorities. In Australia, for example, such requests can only be made by the Attorney General or the Minister of Home Affairs. Accepting requests is also the duty of the Attorney General.

Requests are not always approved. There are numerous reasons why one country may reject another's request. In the UK, extradition is barred when there is a possibility capital punishment or if the sentence has already been declared.

If a request is approved, the person will be transferred against his will. Before, that happens, however, the person who is subject to the request is generally given an opportunity to appeal. This can allow the individual to present arguments as to why he should not be extradited. In some cases, decisions to extradite can be reversed.

Extradition is not always an international matter. Like nations, state authorities generally have powers that are limited to their borders. Knowing this, some people move from one state to another to avoid justice.

This can be handled with a process commonly referred to as interstate extradition. Australia is an example of a country that has such procedures. Although the regulations and procedures may vary to some degree, the principle of interstate extradition is the same as international extradition.

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