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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 March 2007, 19:16 GMT
France backs extradition to China
China's first deputy Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo and French Justice Minister Pascal Clement sign the treaty
France is one of three EU countries to sign an extradition text with China
France has signed an extradition treaty with China despite concerns expressed by human rights groups over Beijing's use of the death penalty.

France's justice minister said a suspect would be extradited in cases punishable by death only if China guaranteed they would not be executed.

Pascal Clement also said the treaty excluded offences judged to be political or military.

France is the third EU country after Spain and Portugal to sign such a pact.

"This treaty explicitly anticipates the rejection of extradition requests based on offences viewed as political offences or military offences," said Mr Clement at the signing ceremony.

A further guarantee was that the arrest warrants issued by a police authority also had to be "validated by a judicial authority", he said.

Human rights groups have urged the French parliament - which must ratify the treaty - to block its adoption because of what they say are continuing serious human rights violations in China.

Amnesty International France said there was "no certainty that a Chinese citizen extradited one day with the clearest guarantees will not be sentenced to death at a later date on a different charge".

Outgoing French President Jacques Chirac, who made an official visit to China in October aimed at strengthening economic ties, is a staunch advocate of engagement with Beijing, correspondents say.

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