Global Legal Collaboration: A Comprehensive Analysis of UAE Extradition Framework

UAE treats extradition not as a public action but as a judicial order, subject to review by superior courts

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Pavitra Shetty

Published on May 13, 2024, 11:04:53


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The United Arab Emirates (UAE), as a signatory of the Riyadh Arab Convention on Judicial Cooperation, extends its legal cooperation to Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Algeria, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco.

Additionally, the UAE has established bilateral treaties for judicial collaboration with various countries, including the United Kingdom, France, India, Pakistan, Iran, Australia, China and Egypt.

UAE' s Legal Framework on Judicial Cooperation

The UAE has enacted Federal Law No. 39 of 2006, focusing on mutual judicial cooperation in criminal matters, which incorporates the country's extradition law. In 2012, the UAE ratified an extradition treaty aimed at streamlining prisoner transfers between Gulf states and India.

In the realm of legal practice, discussions often centre around extradition procedures in the UAE. Unlike many jurisdictions, the UAE treats extradition not as a public action but as a judicial order, subject to review by superior courts.

The Extradition Process

The following is the process for extradition:

Receipt of Warrant: The requesting state issues a warrant for arrest as per the terms of the extradition treaty.
Endorsement of Warrant: The central government endorses the warrant, enabling the arrest of the fugitive.
Presentation before Magistrate Court: The arrested fugitive is presented before the magistrate court, which confirms the arrest and notifies the central government.
Transfer of Custody: Upon confirmation, the central government arranges for the transfer of the fugitive to the requesting state's authorities.

Key Considerations in Extradition Requests

Several factors influence extradition requests and procedures:

Territorial Jurisdiction: Extradition may be pursued for crimes committed outside the territory, subject to the discretion of the requested country.
Political Crimes: The requested country may refuse extradition for political crimes.
Priority of Extradition Requests: Priority is given to the country most affected by the crime or where it was committed.
Exceptions to Extradition: Both India and the UAE exempt their nationals from extradition requests.

Key Legal Provisions Governing Extradition in the UAE

Key legal provisions governing extradition in the UAE include:

Constitutional Prohibition: Article 38 of the UAE Constitution explicitly prohibits the extradition of citizens and political refugees.
Penal Code: Articles 121 and 132(1) of the UAE Penal Code, Federal Law No. 3 of 1987, outline provisions related to extradition.
Criminal Procedures Code: Article 304(1) of the Criminal Procedures Code, Federal Law No. 35, addresses extradition procedures.
Residency Law: Articles 23 to 29 of the Residency Law, Federal Law No. 17 of 1972, along with Articles 79 to 92 of its Executive Regulations, further delineate aspects of extradition law.

The Process of Extradition Through Diplomatic Channels

Extradition proceedings in the UAE are conducted through diplomatic channels:

Initiation: The requesting party, typically the Attorney General, submits a formal request to the Ministry of Justice in the requesting country.
Transmission: The Ministry of Justice forwards the extradition request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which then communicates it to the embassy of the requesting country in the UAE's capital.
Receipt by Requested Party: The embassy transmits the request to the UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which subsequently transfers it to the Ministry of Justice.

Enforcement of Extradition Request

The execution of an extradition request involves several steps:

Arrest: Interpol may issue a Red Notice alert to prevent the fugitive from travelling. The prosecutor may then interview the wanted individual.
Deportation or Incarceration: Depending on the nature of the offense, the individual may be immediately deported or detained pending further proceedings.
Examination of Case: In some cases, such as in the UK, the prosecutor reviews the case file received from the requesting jurisdiction and initiates extradition proceedings before a specialised court.

Available Defenses

Various defenses may be invoked during extradition proceedings:

Dual Criminality: Extradition is permissible only if the individual's actions constitute an offense in both the requesting and requested states.
Political Crimes: Opposition to a political regime may serve as a defense under international law.
Human Rights Concerns: Extradition may be refused if there are concerns about human rights violations or unusual punishment in the requesting jurisdiction.
Conflicts of Jurisdiction: Extradition cannot occur if there is a dispute over which jurisdiction has authority.
Diplomatic Protection: Individuals may seek diplomatic protection, but effective nationality and a genuine bond with the protecting state are essential.
Extradition is a complex legal process shaped by international agreements and domestic laws. While treaties facilitate extradition, resolving jurisdictional conflicts and ensuring compliance with human rights standards remain ongoing challenges. The UAE's engagement in extradition treaties reflects the evolving nature of legal cooperation amid globalisation's complexities.