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Extradition – a measure to ‘extinguish’ criminals’ illusions of fleeing abroad

In international cooperation to deal with crimes, extradition is a typical measure to help countries track down fugitives who have fled abroad to escape legal punishment.

According to statistics of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), each year the world loses about 10 billion USD due to the operation of transnational fraud lines. This type of crime always tends to hide across many countries. Therefore, the fight against crime is no longer an internal affair of each country.

The Ministry of Public Security said that by mid-2019, more than 1,200 Vietnamese criminals had fled abroad, of which 235 were wanted by Interpol, many of whom were suspected of committing particularly serious crimes; More than 310 suspects are wanted by Interpol, suspected of hiding in Vietnam. The numbers tend to increase, but there are many regulations to deal with.

The Extradition Law, which was proposed by the Ministry of Public Security to the National Assembly in August 2019, issued by the Law on Mutual Legal Assistance in 2007, 15 years ago, revealed many shortcomings, including inappropriate work. with international practices.

Therefore, in May, the Ministry of Public Security released a draft regulation on international cooperation in criminal proceedings, including mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, transfer of persons serving prison sentences, and extradition. The draft is being made public for public comment

The Criminal Investigation Agency of the Ministry of National Defense extradited a suspect in the case of manufacturing and trading fake goods from Cuba to Vietnam, March 2019.  Photo: Mod

The Criminal Investigation Agency of the Ministry of National Defense extradited a suspect in the case of manufacturing and trading fake goods from Cuba to Vietnam, March 2019. Image: Mod

According to the common definition of the US and European judicial authorities, extradition is the process by which two countries sign an international, legally binding treaty to hand over to the other country a wanted criminal. .

In Vietnam, according to the Law on Mutual Legal Assistance, “extradition means the transfer by one country to another country of an offender or a criminally convicted person who is present in its territory so that the transferred country can obtain access to it.” criminal liability or judgment enforcement against that person”.

The history of extradition dates back to the Roman Empire. One of the first extradition treaties was the one between England and Scotland, signed in 1174. The treaty called for “the surrender of traitors and felons” and extradition was understood to mean the arrest of those wanted. wanted for political crimes.

Today, political offenses are often excluded from extradition treaties. But not all countries have extradition treaties with each other, so criminals still have places they can use to hide.

One of the recent classic “escapists” must include Edward Snowden. In 2013, the former American intelligence adviser provided top-secret National Security Agency (NSA) information to leading investigative newspapers. Edward Snowden was charged by the US Department of Justice with violations Espionage Act and Theft of government propertyPassport revoked.

Two days later, he flew to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, where he was confined for more than a month. Finally, in October 2020, he was granted asylum by Russia and granted a permanent citizen card, escaping the “pursuit” of US security agencies.

This comes from the fact that Russia and the US do not have an extradition treaty. On the other hand, Snowden did not break any Russian laws, so even though Snowden is a “national enemy”, the US cannot arrest him on Russian soil.

Edward Snowden.  Photo: CoinDesk

Edward Snowden. Image: CoinDesk

In fact, extradition is not a regular occurrence. For example, the year of the “Edward Snowden incident”, in the US, only about 900 people were extradited. Most of the crimes are from Canada, Mexico and Colombia, with the majority being drug trafficking, fraud, murder and rape.

For misdemeanors, most countries will not want extradition. Partly due to long and slow procedures and involving complicated international and national law. But mainly because countries want to build a friendly government image, to easily attract people and financial potential to their countries.

Extradition treaties are not legally binding, so any country can choose to make or refuse any extradition request.

A special US police plane escorted two criminals at Noi Bai airport on October 23, 2020.  Photo: Provided by the police

A special plane of the US Police escorted two criminals at Noi Bai airport on October 23, 2020. Image: provided by the police

Despite the differences in laws between countries, in general, extradition treaties are based on four main principles:

– Do not extradite political criminals

There is little consensus among countries on what a “political crime” is.

In Vietnam, this principle is reflected in Article 35 of the Law on Mutual Legal Assistance. Specifically, Vietnam will refuse to extradite people who are likely to be persecuted in the country requesting extradition due to discrimination of “social class or political opinion”.

– Do not extradite its own citizens

This provision is often enshrined in the national constitution or statutes of many countries. For example, Vietnam may refuse to extradite in cases where the person requested to be extradited is a Vietnamese citizen, according to Article 35 of the Law on Mutual Legal Assistance.

But later, the international consensus on this principle will not apply to international criminals.

Matters are more complicated when the person being extradited is stateless or has multiple citizenships. According to the draft of the Ministry of Public Security, in case Vietnam is the requested country, the extradition will only be carried out when the requesting country commits not to prosecute the extradited person for penal liability for crimes other than those committed. commit the offense stated in the extradition request and do not extradite the person to a third country, unless otherwise agreed in writing by Vietnam.

Principle of double identification

A person is extradited only when his or her conduct is a criminal act, according to the laws of both countries (the requesting country and the requested country). That is, both countries must assert that the extradited person’s conduct is a criminal offense and that the punishment should be in the form of imprisonment, with a defined period of time.

The legal regulations of some countries differ in the division of severity. An offense that may be less serious in one country is defined as “very serious in another”. This is also a barrier that makes extradition complicated.


The requested country will only carry out the requested extradition if the other country has committed that in a similar case, it will definitely extradite the criminal to the other country.

According to the Ministry of Public Security of Vietnam, extradition is an international cooperation in crime prevention and control, but contains many political and diplomatic elements and is directly related to human rights.

Therefore, this is the principle emphasized in the first chapter of the Draft of the Ministry of Public Security. Accordingly, when applying this principle, relevant agencies must base themselves on the necessity and needs of Vietnam in each specific case; must comply with laws and international treaties and foreign policy, political, economic and social impact.

Vietnam is currently a member of 22 multilateral international treaties, 11 bilateral legal assistance agreements with provisions on extradition and 12 specialized bilateral agreements on extradition with countries, including the UK. Korea, Australia, Thailand, India…

Hai Thu (Follow Liberty Mundo, CNBC, Mutual Legal Assistance Law)

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