You can run, but you cannot hide, on this note the government of United Arab Emirates and South African government signed an extradition treaty and mutual legal collaboration in criminal matters in late 2018. The treaty will enable the countries to help each other in criminal investigation and prosecution of crimes through mutual collaboration and extradition of accused hiding in either of the country post committing a crime or who is wanted in requesting country.
negotiations pertaining to the concerned
treaty initiated in 2010 and after prolonged negotiations for around eight years, both the countries finally signed
the treaty. The treaty covers several criminal acts including but not limited to,
torture and criminal acts punishable with the death penalty.
treaty is an outcome of serious criminal
matters wherein the accused leave the country post committing an offence in either of the states. It is a move
that could pave the way for the forceful return of the famous Gupta Brothers
who has been declared as “Fugitive from Justice” by South African Court.
The Gupta Brothers Case
The Indian brothers, who are among one
of the richest South Africans are under
investigation for alleged corruption. A public inquiry was initiated against
them for corruption along with the
scandal-tainted erstwhile president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma. The investigations were initiated to gather evidence which will prove that the former
president organized pillage of
government-owned coffers and allowed them to select ministers which are known as “State Capture”. A minister has
given testimony against the parties involved in the concerned scandal. The brothers
fled to UAE in early 2018 as criminal investigations for alleged corruption was
believed that international criminal justice strikes for a balance
between respecting a states’ sovereignty and integrity of the territory. The
correct and adequate procedure for a state (the requesting country) is to
request another state (the requested
states) for mutual collaboration and cooperation for mutual assistance in legal
matters in gathering evidence and extradition of an accused. A perpetrator can be extradited if the requesting state complies
with the extradition agreement and the domestic laws of the requested country.
Thus, in the present circumstances, the UAE courts will determine, whether the
request for extraditing Gupta brothers should be considered or not on the
grounds if it complies with the extradition treaty as well as the domestic
laws. The treaty signed between the two
states determine the types of offences in
which extradition will be possible and the instances under which the requested state can refuse it.
The Treaty Itself
The preamble of the treaty reaffirms
the parties’ concerns towards the magnitude of the offences such as international terrorism and other crimes of
serious nature. It further states that the parties agree to extradite persons
hiding in their country who have been charged under or are convicted of an offence
for which they can be extradited. Such offences are certainly punished under the
domestic laws of both the countries, by way of
imprisonment for a period not exceeding 1 (one) year or for a more serious
In addition, the treaty empowers the requesting
country to seek extradition in the cases involving violation of laws pertaining to taxation, customs duty, and
foreign exchange. In such cases, the extradition will be granted in if the
requested country do not have the same laws or laws for such offences. However, the request for extradition
will be rejected by either country if the offenses
committed by the accused is of political nature or any other offense which is in violation to the law of
military of either country.
An extradition treaty makes it easier
for countries to extradite people who are
hiding in another country. However, South Africa does not require an extradition
treaty with any country as there is a
specific extradition act and international mechanism which allows them to extradite people who are hiding in their state.
It is pertinent to highlight that the
treaty will be applied retrospectively with particular reference to the Gupta
Brothers’ case accused of collaboration with a former president of South Africa
and other senior-level government officials for corruption and state capture.
With the treaty in place, the proceedings for the concerned case can begin, and the accused can be brought in the country
to face criminal charges.
The South African Ministry has also
received eight other requests for mutual collaboration with other countries in
criminal matters and obtaining shreds of evidence for criminal proceedings.