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The Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill was introduced in the House of Lords by the Government in January 2020. It completed Third Reading on 15 June and is due to have Second Reading in the House of Commons on 22 June.

Extradition is the legal process by which a person accused or convicted of a crime is surrendered from one state to another to stand trial or serve a sentence. It is governed by the Extradition Act 2003, which implements the European Arrest Warrant for EU Member States, and sets out the procedure to be followed in the case of other territories with which the UK has formal extradition agreements.

The Bill would amend the 2003 Act to provide police with the power to arrest without a warrant for the purposes of extradition. According to the Government this is necessary to address a capability gap that exists at present where the police become aware of a person wanted by a non-EU territory, usually through the system of Interpol alerts, but are unable to arrest them without obtaining a warrant from a court. This gives rise to a risk that the wanted person might abscond or offend before the police are able to detain them.

Currently the Bill only applies to extradition requests from certain non-EU countries: Australia, Canada, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Switzerland and the USA.

The Government has said that this is because the UK has a high level of confidence in these countries as extradition partners, in their criminal justice systems, and in their use of extradition.

It also reflects the fact that the power already exists under the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) and is therefore not needed for nationals of EU Member States before the end of the Brexit transition period.

Further territories could be added to the list in the future by regulations, and the Government has said the power could be extended to EU countries if the UK lost access to the EAW. However during debates in the House of Lords the minister stated that the Bill was not an attemp to replicate the capability of the EAW.

The House of Lords was broadly supportive of the aims of the Bill but amended it to introduce additional safeguards to the process of adding further territories in the future. This reflects concerns about the possibility of countries with poor human rights records abusing the extradition system.

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