Integrity Legal

24th March 2010

The issue of extradition is becoming more important as the world becomes increasingly “small” thanks in part to technology and the movement towards globalization. In a global environment, legal issues are becoming increasingly international as people are leaving their home countries and taking up residence in countries abroad. In order to understand extradition we need to understand how the international legal system operates when it comes to the issue of dealing with individuals who have warrants or arrests in multiple jurisdictions.  First we need to define what “extradition” means as it can have a significant impact upon individuals throughout the world.

The online informational resource wikipedia.com defines Extradition as follows:

“Extradition is the official process whereby one nation or state surrenders a suspected or convicted criminal. Between nation states, extradition is regulated by treaties.”

This leads to the question: If extradition is the process of surrendering foreign criminals to another nation, then how do countries determine when it is appropriate to extradite individuals? This can be incredibly important as activities which are considered criminal in one jurisdiction may be considered legal in another. To further quote wikipedia:

“The consensus in international law is that a state does not have any obligation to surrender an alleged criminal to a foreign state as one principle of sovereignty is that every state has legal authority over the people within its borders. Such absence of international obligation and the desire of the right to demand such criminals of other countries have caused a web of extradition treaties or agreements to evolve; most countries in the world have signed bilateral extradition treaties with most other countries. No country in the world has an extradition treaty with all other countries…”

Extradition Treaties represent the agreement between two countries regarding the procedure for dealing with those individuals who have a criminal warrant or conviction in one of the nations that is a party to the Treaty. The Kingdom of Thailand and the United States of America have an Extradition Treaty. To quote the American State Department’s website:

“There is a bilateral treaty on Extradition in force between the United States and Thailand, 11 Bevans 1008, 43 Stat. 1749 (1924) and Treaty relating to extradition signed at Washington December 14, 1983, entered into force May 17, 1991. There is a treaty on transfer of prisoners “Treaty on Cooperation in Execution of Penal Sentences” signed at Bangkok October 29, 1982, entered into force December 7, 1988.”

From a practical standpoint, the existence of an Extradition Treaty does not necessarily mean that those with arrest warrants, convictions, or fugitive warrants in the USA will be automatically picked up, arrested, and extradited by authorities in Thailand. Instead, this is unlikely as the Thai authorities do not have direct access to the databases that contain US criminal warrant information. However, recently the Thai immigration authorities have announced that they are taking measures to streamline their information gathering process when it comes to foreign nationals. Authorities in Thailand hope to be “plugged in” to US law enforcement databases soon.

Another issue with regard to US warrants involves US passports as Consular Officers at the American Citizen Services Section of the US Embassy in Bangkok may confiscate an American’s passport if they have outstanding US warrants. In such a scenario, the American would likely be accorded an opportunity to willingly return to the USA.


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  9. Charles McGOWAN says:

    what if a Canadian has been picked up by the Thai police and they find a criminal warrant issued by the USA and later the individual has appealed the extradition and has also been found to be shizophrenic and suffering from PTSD ?

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