Page last updated at 18:16 GMT, Thursday, 24 November 2011

MPs call for reform of extradition laws

Conservative MP Dominic Raab opened a Westminster Hall debate on extradition to call on British courts to use their discretion to refuse extradition requests from the US and the EU.

The backbench business debate on 24 November 2011 focused primarily on the UK-US extradition treaty, and the European Arrest Warrant, which assumes mutual recognition of the judicial system in EU countries.

Mr Raab said the current arrangements on the US treaty were "practically all one-sided" - highlighting that 24 Britons had been extradited for trial in the US, with only one American citizen being forced to stand trial in the UK.

Much of the debate focused on the case of Babar Ahmad, who is fighting extradition to the US. He has been held without charge for seven years.

The US government alleges that he was responsible for a global fundraising campaign for extremists in Afghanistan and Chechnya through a website operated from south London but technically based in the US - an accusation that he denies.

Over 140,000 people have signed an e-petition urging the government to investigate the case, and there was anger from some MPs, including Labour's Jeremy Corbyn and the Green leader Caroline Lucas, that the debate was taking place in Westminster Hall and not on the main floor of the Commons.

The government's e-petitions website allows topics which attract 100,000 signatures to be considered by the Backbench Business Committee of MPs, which controls some of the Commons timetable, for a debate.

The case of Gary McKinnon - who is accused of hacking into US government computers - was also raised, with Labour MP Keith Vaz questioning why no decision had been taken on whether or not to allow his extradition to go ahead, despite it being 18 months since the Coalition came in to office.

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