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Australia / China Treaty

A Parliamentary committee in Australia have recommended extraditing criminal to China

Top extradition lawyers have suggested the extradition agreement between Australia and China is not the acceptable and it requires a number of reforms before being ratified into a treaty. The extradition experts have suggested fair trial and the rule of law is not respected in China currently and Australia cannot extradite individuals to China knowing these issues still exist.

A federal parliamentary committee in Australia has made a recommendation, to the Australian government, that they should ratify their extradition treaty with China. The recommendation even though there has been widespread anxiety about China’s legal system and their human rights record.

Key Information:

  • Although the extradition was signed in 2007 it has yet to be legislated into Australian law.
  • According to a number of Human Rights organisations, China executes more individuals than any other country.
  • Australian labor Ministers have voiced concerns about the Treaty. They have stated that they are skeptical about the treaty and that it requires stronger safeguards.

The extradition treaty although signed in 2007 has still not been ratified. Ministers from both parties have stated that they are unsure about whether the agreement should be ratified and legislated.

Top extradition lawyers have commented on the agreement and stated they believe it would be unconscionable for Australia to extradite criminals to China. They held that the legal system in China is not independent and there is no transparency.

A number of Human Rights organisations looked into the execution rates of different countries and determined that China executes more individuals than any other country is currently executing. They have gone on to accuse the Chinese Government of torturing and generally mistreating their prisoners.

The Australian Government have voiced the same concerns previously about the legal system in China. However, the Australian government has been increasingly expanding its cooperation with the Chinese government on transnational crime. The Australian government believed that the ratification of the treaty could open a number of avenues which will help the two governments collaborate on further issues.

The Chinese Government have been pushing for Australia to ratify the agreement due to a number of corrupt party officials from China having fled to Australia to seek refuge.

A number of corrupt officials have also fled to other Western countries where China does not have an extradition treaty. These countries include the United States, Canada, New Zealand a number of countries in the European Union and the United Kingdom.

The final report from the parliament committee has tried to strike a difficult balance. They stated that the committee is unable to dismiss the concerns over the ill treatment and torture of prisoners and their continued use of the capital punishment. They are also unable to dismiss the lack of transparency within the Chinese justice system currently.

However, it went on to say that extradition treaties are integral to beating both domestic and international crime. They stated that the treaty with China would go a long way to ensuring that Australia does not become a safe haven for individuals who have committed serious crimes.

The final report by the parliament committee has recommended that the Australia government introduce a number of addition safeguards for extradition to China.

The report held that Australia needs to take into account reports from both government and non-government sources about the degree to which the criminal justice system in China complies with human rights and also the rule of law. The recommendation of the report was that extraditions should be made only on the understanding that the Australian government is informed by diplomatic representatives about the details of each trial. They proposed consular officials be able to attend and report on the outcome of prosecutions.

However, Labor ministers have remained skeptical about the proposed ratification, and they have issued a dissenting report. The dissenting report has called for tougher safeguards to be applied before the treaty is ratified. They have called for Australia retaining the ability to refuse any extradition request where the extradition is unjust or oppressive to the individual.

The dissenting report held that the omission places a doubt about Australia's ability to extradite an individual on the basis that they may be denied a fair trial.

Top extradition lawyers have said that the committee's proposed safeguards are inadequate and work is required before the agreement is deemed satisfactory. The lawyers echoed the views of the dissenting reports. Many of the labour ministers and a number of the conservative ministers were involved in forming the dissenting report.

Stuart Clark, The President of the Law Council of Australia, stated that the rule of law is a fundamental element within Australian society, an element which is not viewed or understood in the same way in China. He concluded his statement to the press by stating that Australia cannot guarantee an individual that is extradited to China will get a fair trial. Clark and many extradition experts have grave concerns about sending individuals to a jurisdiction that fair trial is not respected.

Top extradition lawyers have also agreed that a middle ground could exist where the rule of law can be proven to be respected by allowing Australian officials to be involved in the prosecution process. The main issue they believe needs resolving prior to the agreement is the assurance that every individual extradited from to China from Australia will not be tortured, degraded or allowed to be considered for capital punishment.

 The report written by the coalition did highlight a number of concerns that they wanted addressing before the agreement is ratified. However, the government wants to ratify the agreement in order to encourage further cooperation with China. They believe it will open avenues to further collaboration between the two countries which will improve relations exponentially.