Extraditions now easier with changes to Fugitive Offenders Act

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In a move to bolster national and regional efforts against organised and transnational crime, the National Assembly on Monday approved amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Act (Cap. 10:04).

The bill seeks to amend section 24 of the Principal Act, expanding the types of documents admissible as evidence in extradition proceedings.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC

It proposes the inclusion of a record of evidence, encompassing documents, statements, or other evidence identifying and locating the person sought, facts of the case, and relevant legal provisions.

Presenting the bill for its second reading, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, said it will augment and bring greater efficiency to Guyana’s extradition proceedings.

He noted previous limitations on the types of documents judges could consider as evidence.

Extradition is a legal process where one country formally requests another to surrender a person wanted for criminal prosecution or to serve a sentence, based on principles of comity and reciprocity.

“This is a positive regime of amendments. It will modernise our extradition law, and enable Guyana as well as other territories to concentrate and collaborate their efforts more efficiently in tackling transnational crime and criminals,” the legal affairs minister explained.

The amendments will also facilitate easier extradition processes, particularly with the USA.

The process starts with an inquiry to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to confirm extradition arrangements with the Requesting Territory. Subsequently, the Minister of Home Affairs decides on issuing the necessary authority to proceed.

“Though extradition is a legal process, you will note that it begins with one minister, and ends with another minister. It begins by an initiative of one government and ends at the initiative of another government,” Minister Nandlall emphasised.

The AG was also quick to deflate concerns about these amendments weakening due process as it relates to extradition, underscoring that they allow for a wider range of evidence.

“There is nothing in this amendment that could possibly compromise due process as it currently exists,” he told the national assembly.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd, also lent his voice in support of the bill, adding that Guyana must strengthen its efforts to collaborate with regional and international partners in tackling organised crime.

“We cannot operate in isolation in fighting these threats, and in helping to ensure that justice prevails, it is important to engage in international cooperation efforts to counter transnational organised crimes such as human trafficking, trafficking in illicit drugs, and money laundering,” he said.

Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, also highlighted the ongoing threat of transnational crime to national security, underscoring the need for modern approaches to curb such activities.

These amendments form part of the government’s broader strategy to strengthen security and stability. (DPI)

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