What is Extradition?
Extradition is defined as "the action of handing over a person accused or convicted of a crime to the jurisdiction of the foreign state in which the crime was committed". Extradition in the UAE is governed by Federal Law No. 39 of 2006, concerning international judicial cooperation in criminal matters ("Extradition Law"), and by the extradition treaties signed and ratified by the UAE.
In the absence of an extradition treaty, the authorities are bound to apply the local laws and respect the principle of reciprocity in international law.
According to the Extradition Law, a formal request should be sent by a requesting country ("Requesting Country") to a requested country ("Requested Country"), via diplomatic channels, for the latter to surrender an accused or convicted person to the authorities of the Requesting Country.
Article 2 of the Extradition Law provides that the judicial authorities in the UAE shall extend judicial cooperation in criminal matters to Foreign Judicial Authorities, in accordance with the Extradition Law and any applicable treaties that UAE acceded and subject to reciprocal treatment.
Conditions for Extradition
Pursuant to Article 7 of the Extradition Law, the Requesting Country shall comply with the following conditions:
- The relevant crime (the subject of the extradition application) must be punishable under the law of the Requesting Country with a freedom restricting or custodial penalty of at least one year or any other severe punishment;
- The act for which extradition is required, if committed within the UAE, must constitute a crime punishable with a freedom restricting penalty for at least one year or any other severe penalty;
- If the matter subject of extradition pertains to execution of a custodial penalty, the remaining unexecuted penalty shall be no less than six months; and
- If the subject of extradition constitutes a punishable crime under the laws of the Requesting Country and the UAE, it is irrelevant if the crime is listed under a different name or description or if the elements of the crime are different.
The extradition application should include the details of the suspects ID, passport copy, the applicable law, a copy of the investigations conducted by the Requesting Country and the judgement rendered against the suspect.
The competent department shall refer the request to the Public Prosecutor after verifying that it meets all the formal requirements. If the competent department finds the supporting information and documents insufficient to decide the request, it shall request the necessary supplementary clarifications or further information or documents from the requesting party and may fix a time limit for the receipt thereof.
The competent court shall issue a reasoned decision on eligibility for extradition in accordance with the law, and extradition shall not be granted unless a decision has been issued by the competent court.
The Public Prosecutor and the person to be surrendered may appeal the decision of the competent court to the competent appeals court. The time limit for appeal is 30 days, either from the date of the court's decision, if issued in the presence of the parties, or from the date of notification of the person to be surrendered if the decision was issued in absentia.
The extradition shall be enforced only after the extradition order has been finalised.
Grounds for refusal by the UAE to extradite:
- The person is a UAE national;
- UAE law gives jurisdiction to the competent judicial authorities concerning the crime stated on the extradition request;
- The crime stated on the extradition request is a political crime or associated with a political crime;
- The crime concerns violating military duties;
- The extradition request is meant to pursue or punish a person due to his race, religion, nationality, political views or if these reasons are meant to undermine the position of such person;
- The person underwent investigation procedures or trial for the same crime and was acquitted; or convicted but served the relevant punishment;
- A definitive judgment was issued by UAE courts concerning the crime which is the subject of extradition;
- The criminal lawsuit was forfeited or the penalty was dropped due to passage of time when the extradition application was filed;
- The person subject of extradition was subjected to or could be subjected to torture, inhuman treatment, humiliating treatment or cruel punishment, in the Requesting Country, which does not conform to the crime or if the minimum assurances prescribed by the penal procedures code are not secured.
Case Study: The Existence of an Extradition Treaty
Horizons & Co-Chairman, Ali Ismael Al Zarooni led a prominent extradition case in the UAE; Advocate Ali's clients were accused of tax evasion, money laundering and embezzling public funds in the United Kingdom, totaling AED 500 million, one of the largest tax fraud cases in the UK. A request was lodged with the Dubai Public Prosecution to extradite Advocate Ali's clients back to the United Kingdom. At the Dubai Appeal Court in April 2015, the request for extradition was rejected due to a time-bar, as the crimes were committed between 2004 and 2008. This decision was appealed by the prosecutors before the Dubai Cassation Court, who overturned the original decision. Despite the lapse of time, the case was referred back to the Dubai Appeal Court, who put a new panel of judges together to hear the case. It was decided that our clients could be extradited back to the UK for the alleged crimes. In 2016, Advocate Ali appealed the decision, he argued that as the crimes were committed in as early as 2008, a time lapse of more than five years can be strongly demonstrated, and thus the extradition request must be rejected on those grounds. Demonstrating his perseverance to ensure that our clients received the best possible advice and representation Adv. Ali was successful in his appeal and the request to extradite was dismissed.
This case is especially interesting as it deals with issues surrounding the judicial co-operation treaty between UK and the UAE. The case can be considered as a leading and innovative case, dealing with the relationship between the UK and the UAE, and may be used as a precedent for future cases involving extradition and lapse of time.
Reference: Cassation case number 209/2016.
Prior to making an extradition application in the UAE it is important to bear in mind, not only the general requirements of UAE law on the subject but specific requirements of treaties and conventions to which the UAE and the country requesting extradition are party. The UAE is proactive in regards to extradition, and authorities are familiar with the process. The UAE receives and sends numerous extradition requests per year. Therefore, the UAE not only enforces its domestic laws, but also continues to enter into bilateral and multilateral treaties with the aim of fighting crimes.
November 14 2018
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.