Commonwealth Numbered Regulations - Explanatory Statements

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Issued by the Authority of the Minister for Justice and Customs

Extradition Act 1988

Extradition (Latvia) Regulations 2000

Section 55 of the Extradition Act 1988 ("the Act") provides that the Governor-General may make regulations prescribing all matters required or permitted by the Act to be prescribed or necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out or giving effect to the Act. Subsection 5 (a) of the Act provides that "extradition country" means, among other things, any country (other than New Zealand) that is declared by the regulations to be an extradition country.

The Regulations provide that the Republic of Latvia ("Latvia") is an extradition country. The Regulations will enable Australia to deal with any extradition request received from Latvia before entry into force of the extradition treaty between Australia and Latvia which is to be signed during July 2000. Latvia will not be able to grant extradition to Australia until the entry into force of the treaty, but reciprocal assistance will be available under the treaty thereafter. Interim application of the Act to a .prospective treaty partner is not a regular feature of Australia's extradition practice, but there is precedent for such application (to Germany in 1985) and it is consistent with the Act. Extradition to Latvia under the proposed Regulations will operate in accordance with the requirements of the Act. This allows use of the "no evidence" procedure, which avoids the requirement for presentation of evidence establishing a prima facie case against the person sought.

Extradition under the Regulations is subject to the various safeguards set out in the Act. For example, extradition is not permitted where the fugitive is sought for or in connection with his or her race, religion, nationality or political opinions or would be tried, sentenced or detained for a political or military law offence. Extradition must be refused where the fugitive could be liable to the death penalty, unless Latvia (which has abolished the death penalty for all crimes in peacetime) gives an undertaking that the death penalty will not be imposed or, if imposed, will not be carried out. In addition,, the Attorney-General retains a broad discretion to refuse surrender of a person to Latvia.

Similar "non-treaty regulations" based on reciprocity provide that the Act applies to Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Iceland, Japan, the Marshall Islands, South Africa and Thailand.

The Act did not previously apply to Latvia. The Treaty between the United Kingdom and the Latvian Republic for the Mutual Extradition of Fugitive Criminals, done at Riga on 16 July 1924, was made applicable to Australia with effect from 23 February 1927 and is still listed in the Australian Treaty Series. It was given effect by the Latvia (Extradition) Order in Council, 1925 (Imp.) (1925 No. 1029). However, the Convention and the Order ceased to have any practical effect upon the annexation of Latvia by the Soviet Union on 6 August 1940. Accordingly, Latvia was not listed in the Schedule to the Extradition (Foreign States) Act 1966 as a country to which that Act applied by virtue of section 9 of that Act and hence it has never been an extradition country by virtue of paragraph (c) of the definition of "extradition country" in section 5 of the present Act.

Details of the Regulations are as follows:

Regulation 1 names the Regulations.

Regulation 2 provides that the Regulations commence on gazettal.

Regulation 3 declares Latvia to be an extradition country.

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