HC Deb 16 November 2000 vol 356 cc1065-6
27. Mr. Christopher Chope (Christchurch)

In how many extradition cases his Department is acting on behalf of foreign Governments.[137162]

The Solicitor-General (Mr. Ross Cranston)

The Crown Prosecution Service acts for foreign Governments requesting the extradition of persons to their states. It ensures that formal extradition requests comply with any relevant treaties or conventions and with the Extradition Act 1989. It also advises requesting states on any further material required. In addition, it drafts proposed committal charges, liaises with all interested parties and appears on behalf of the requesting state at court. At the beginning of November 2000, the CPS was recorded as acting for foreign Governments in approximately 79 individual requests. It is advising foreign Governments in approximately 112 further cases where extradition has been requested.

Mr. Chope

One of those cases involves the Portuguese Government and one of my constituents. Does the Solicitor-General accept that in such circumstances it is desirable to have communication between those acting for the individual and the Government of the foreign country? Will he do something about the fact that, for four and a half months, even the Portuguese ambassador—in response to my letters and those of my constituent's solicitor—has not been able to get a firm response from Lisbon after a change of circumstances that render continued prosecution, and extradition in this case, redundant?

The Solicitor-General

The hon. Gentleman raised a specific case, in which, I understand, the divisional court will consider an application for habeas corpus soon. So I should not comment on that. As a result of his question, I have reconsidered the role of the CPS in carrying forward extradition requests. At present, under a decision called "Thom", it acts purely in a solicitor-client relationship. I have raised questions about that and I will pursue the matter further.

Importantly, in recent times the CPS has dealt with requests by the United States Government for the extradition of the alleged bombers of its embassies in Africa and it has acted on a request for the extradition of a person alleged to have committed war crimes. It operates effectively in that area, although there is the problem that the hon. Gentleman raised and I will come back to him on that.

Mr. Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock)

What new responsibilities does my hon. and learned Friend anticipate that his Department will have if and when we get around to enacting our obligations under the treaty of Rome to create the international criminal court? Clearly, we will have new duties relating to extradition—duties that we would wish to pursue with vigour.

The Solicitor-General

I agree. As I said, we have already responded to a request by the war crimes tribunal for Rwanda and I anticipate that we would act in the same vigorous way when we receive requests from the new international criminal court.