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British MPs call for amendment to British-U.S. extradition treaty

(Xinhua)

10:05, March 31, 2012

LONDON, March 30 (Xinhua) -- A committee of British lawmakers (MPs) has criticized the current extradition treaty between Britain and the United States, calling for its immediate amendment to ease "growing public unease about the fairness of the treaty."

In a report published Friday, the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) urged the British government to revamp the treaty to specify that the same test applying for extradition from Britain applies to extradition from the United States.

The report also called on the British government to introduce a "forum bar" to extradition so as to allow a judge to decide that a person be tried in Britain in cases where both countries have jurisdiction.

"The treaty is unbalanced, making it easier to extradite a British citizen to the U.S. than vice versa," HASC Chairman Keith Vaz said.

Vaz said that prosecutors must be required to produce evidence in support of an extradition request and the accused should have the right to challenge that evidence in court.

The lawmakers also demanded that British Home Secretary Theresa May immediately publish the findings of a judicial investigation into extradition, which ended several months ago.

The call came after several extradition cases had raised public concerns about the issue.

The most high-profile case involves 46-year-old Gary McKinnon, a Londoner, who is waiting to hear if he will be extradited over allegations that he hacked into the computers of the U.S. military.

British citizen and retired businessman Christopher Tappin, 65, is being held in jail in the U.S. state of New Mexico while he awaits a trial on arms dealing charges after being extradited in February.

In a third case, Richard O'Dwyer, a 23-year-old student, is also under threat of extradition to the United States to face charges of breaking the country's copyright laws.

Issues around the extradition treaty were raised earlier this month by British Prime Minister David Cameron when he met U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington.

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