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This article assesses the feasibilities and outline of the process of
extradition in the UAE. The article also reviews how extradition succeeds
through judicial collaboration internationally.
In the below article, the procedural elements of requesting extradition of a person resident in the UAE is explained and evaluated, with reference to the UAE’s international judicial cooperation.
The process of extradition is the legal pathway of removal of a specified person by one country’s judicial body through requests made to another country’s judicial body for the purposes of returning that person to a country where criminal charges are alleged or a prison sentence is pending.
When deciding whether a request for extradition from another state will be complied with, the UAE court will make an evaluation in line with the evidence and prevailing laws. A number of conditions must be met before the UAE will take any action to eject a person from UAE territory. The laws that must be observed include any bilateral or multilateral treaties, as well as Federal Law no. 39 of 2006 on Mutual Judicial Assistance in Criminal Matters, which is the governing law on such matters and sets out certain precepts.
One important article of this law is Article No. 7, which sets out a number of conditions which are required to be if the crime is committed out of the UAE; include:
- Firstly, that the act that is the subject of the extradition request must be considered a crime of the penal codes of both the UAE and the country from which the request emanates, as stipulated by Article No. 7 (1) and (2).
- The minimum penalties that are linked to the crime that is the subject of the request must also exceed one year of jail sentence in both the UAE and the country from which the request emanates.
- There must be an agreement to adhere to the principle of equal treatment of all persons, as stipulated by the same law No. 39.
If the maximum penalty is less than a year or the anticipated sentence would only impose financial penalties in the requesting state, the UAE has the right to reject the extradition request. Judgments made in absentia will be acknowledged.
Extradition and the Death Sentence
There is no explicit law that would prevent UAE authorities from extraditing a person who would face punishment that includes the death penalty for the crime committed. However, there is a limit to this; the death sentence must be for a crime that is deemed reasonable by UAE laws. This means if the crime for which the subject is wanted is one that would not incur the death penalty in the UAE, it is unlikely the extradition would be granted.
Limitations to Extradition
Some factors place limitations on the UAE courts from processing requests from foreign authorities. These include:
- Those circumstances in which UAE courts have the jurisdiction, even in cases where criminal procedures have not been initiated (Article No.8 (2)).
- Circumstances involving connections to political crimes.
- Circumstances under which authorities have cause to believe the extradition was made on the basis of race, nationality or political identity.
- Circumstances under which UAE authorities have cause to suspect the person may face inhumane treatment or punishment if extradited that does not fit the due punishment for the crime committed.
- Circumstances when criminal proceedings have already been initiated in the UAE regarding the same crime (Article No.9 (5)) or where a criminal judgment has been issued for the same crime in the UAE or any other country (Article No.9 (5)).
- Circumstances in which the requesting country has time limitations that pertain to the extradition (Article No.9 (9)).
- However, if the name of the crime is different in the country of extradition request as in the UAE, this is not seen as an impediment to a request. Crime titles vary from country to country, and Article 4 specifies that the crime’s name is not relevant to the validity of a request.
If the extradition request fails on one of the above criteria, this does not automatically mean the request is thrown out; if there are multiple crimes that have been alleged, a request will still be processed if at least one of the crimes fulfils the necessary conditions.
There are several legal procedures to be undertaken in extraditing suspects as per the UAE laws. They include:
- Ascertaining under which legislation the extradition must be undertaken. Any bilateral or multilateral extradition agreement between the UAE and requesting country will take priority over International Judicial Corporation Law. In the event neither of these can be applied, the National Criminal Law of the UAE will come into force. Extradition is heavily implemented through diplomatic channels.
- The UAE Public Prosecution has an International Co-operation Department that will take the lead in extradition cases. It is the responsibility of this department to ensure all papers are in check with accurate explanations of the crime and request, and then further translated into the national language of the requesting country. The requests must be sent through appropriate methods.
- For the benefit of local authorities, the requesting country must also have submitted various documents that are then to be translated into Arabic and authenticated by local authorities. Such documents include copies of passport and/or ID, identikit pictures or details of physiognomy, a copy of the law relating to the crime that was committed, a copy of all papers that relate to the criminal investigation into the accused and all relevant details regarding the alleged crime, including where and when it occurred and how it was committed. Any judgments that have been issued by the courts in the jurisdiction of the country of request must also be presented.
- Extradition requests can be expedited under certain conditions. This would also involve the UAE taking the subject of the request into custody, which can only happen if the crime that is at the centre of the request is deemed severe by the Public Prosecution. The timeframe of an initial period of custody is 15 days, although that can be renewed for up to 40 days. In cases where the UAE and the requesting country have a bilateral convention in place, this may be overridden to an extent of 60 days, but that would require the personal approval of the head of Public Prosecution or assigned prosecutor.
Release of the Accused
Once a person has been detained in UAE custody for the purposes of carrying through an extradition request, the UAE can notify the country to send a further application to return the accused. There is provision for a person who is the subject of an extradition request and who has been detained in UAE custody to then be released. This can happen under the following circumstances:
- If the detained person gives either an amount of money or a valuable asset as a security deposit, or in the case where a personal guarantee has been issued by another person on behalf of the detained person.
- If after investigations have been carried out by local authorities and the 15-, 40- or 60-day custody period has elapsed and the requesting country then fails to ask for the person to be returned.
- There is also discretionary power for the Public Prosecution to release a person who is the subject of an extradition request if that person pleas for release and the prosecution determines the crime is not serious enough to warrant detention.
However, even in cases where a person is released from custody in the UAE, this is no guarantee that they cannot be arrested once more if the country requesting extradition later follows up with the UAE authorities. Whatever had happened previously – such as personal guarantees or security deposits – are irrelevant in this case.
The usual standards of judicial integrity apply in these cases and at all times the person at the centre of the extradition request should be made aware of allegations against him or her, under what laws they have been made and that they have the right to a lawyer and to defend him or herself.
In practice, the UAE is familiar with processing extradition requests and these normally proceed smoothly. Clear legislation and protocol on using bilateral and multilateral treaties help to navigate what can be tricky waters of international judicial cooperation.