Fact Sheet on the U.S.-UK Extradition Treaty

Fact Sheet on the U.S.-UK Extradition Treaty
16 November 2011


The United States welcomes the finding of the Extradition Review Panel that the U.S./UK treaty is balanced.


The U.S./UK extradition treaty has governed our bilateral extradition relationship since 2007.  The Treaty modernized the extradition relationship between the U.S. and UK and strengthened each country’s ability to extradite serious offenders wanted for a wide variety of crimes – including terrorism, other violent crimes, organized crime, and white-collar crime.

In September, 2010, the Home Secretary appointed a panel of legal experts to study UK extradition issues, including the U.S./UK extradition relationship.  That panel took evidence from government officials in both the U.S. and the UK and also met with critics of the treaty.  After exhaustively studying applicable domestic laws, the extradition practice of both governments, and extraditions concluded under the treaty, the panel found that the treaty is fair and balanced.  The report, issued in October 2011, and which can be found here, provides considerable data and analysis to support the panel’s conclusions.

The standards are the same in practice:

All extradition requests between the U.S. and UK must meet the same evidentiary standard:  probable cause.  All requests from the U.S. must meet the standard of “reasonable suspicion” required under UK law.    However, all requests from the U.S. must also be based on a charging document that meets the “probable cause” standard required under U.S. law.  This is the same standard that the U.S. requires of extradition requests from the UK.  The panel reviewed the evidence and concluded:  “There is no practical difference between the information submitted to and from the United States.”

The relationship is one of parity:

The treaty is a “dual criminality” treaty.  No one can be extradited by either country unless the offense for which extradition is requested is a crime in both countries and carries a prison sentence of at least one year.

The numbers do not demonstrate imbalance:

The United States has not denied a single extradition request from the UK under the treaty.  While the U.S. does send more extradition requests to the UK than it receives, this difference is largely due to the differences in the size of the respective populations.  The panel report notes that the U.S. has a population about five times the size of the UK, but there have been fewer than twice the number of people extradited to the U.S. than to the UK.  The number of U.S. requests is not disproportionate.

There is no prima facie case requirement for requests in either direction:

The U.S. has never required the UK to provide “prima facie” evidence in requesting an extradition; under the previous treaty, however, the UK held the U.S. to this higher and unequal requirement.  The “prima facie case” requirement imposed significant burdens on the extradition process and delays in due process for individuals subject to possible extradition.  Since the Extradition Act 2003 modernized the UK’s extradition practices, the UK has not required “prima facie” evidence in extradition requests from the United States, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand, nor on any country that signed the European Convention on Extradition Order 1990, including Israel, Turkey, and Russia.

Introduction of the “forum provision” is neither necessary nor justified:

The panel considered whether the “forum bar” should be brought into force as part of the UK’s internal process for determining whether or not a suspect should be tried in the U.K. or extradited to face trial in the U.S. or another country affected by the alleged crime.    Currently, the decision as to where to prosecute a case is made by prosecutors in both countries according to established guidelines and after a detailed consultation about the circumstances of that case. UK extradition judges could not identify any case decided under the Extradition Act 2003 in which the application of the forum bar would have required a different outcome as to the place of prosecution.  The panel concluded that the forum bar should not be implemented, finding that there is no injustice under the current laws and that the forum bar would cause considerable delay in due process for the accused and additional burden on the courts.


The law enforcement relationship between the U.S. and UK is predicated on trust, respect, and the common goals of protecting our nations and eliminating safe havens for criminals.  The United States welcomes the panel’s statement:  “As has been recognized by the courts in this jurisdiction, the United States is a rights-based democracy where accused persons have protections provided by the Constitution to ensure that they are able to participate effectively in a criminal trial process that is conducted fairly; extradition from the United Kingdom to the United States takes place against the background of this protection.”