Everything You Need to Know About Extradition

What is Extradition?

Extradition is the process through which a foreign country requests the surrender of an individual so that they can face trial outside of Canada. If left unchallenged, an extradition order will result in arrest and eventual surrender to the extradition partner. Nearly every country has an extradition treaty with Canada, and there are circumstances which allow extradition without such a treaty.

What is the process of extradition?

The process begins when a foreign country, known as the Requesting State or Extradition Partner, seeks the approval of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. To proceed with the extradition, the offence in question must also be an offence under Canadian criminal law. 

Is there a minimum offence for extradition?

Canada will only extradite a person if the offence in question is one which would attract a prison sentence of at least two years. If the offence meets this and other necessary conditions, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada will issue an Authority to Proceed (ATP). This allows the authorities to arrest the subject of the ATP. Once arrested the person will be held in custody until the end of proceedings unless they are granted bail.

Does extradition require approval?

Extradition requires the approval of the Minister of Justice, and the authorization of a Justice of the Kings Bench. That authorization is determined during a committal hearing, sometimes called an extradition hearing. Committal hearings are meant to determine if someone should be sent to face trial in another jurisdiction outside Canada. 

If you or someone you know has been arrested, a lawyer can apply for bail pending a hearing, and represent you at the committal hearing itself.

Is a committal hearing a trial?

No. A COMMITAL HEARING IS NOT A TRIAL. The purpose of a committal hearing is not to determine your guilt or innocence of the alleged offence. 

What is the purpose of a committal hearing?

The purpose is to determine if you should be sent to another jurisdiction to stand trial. Extradition hearings are meant to be quick and are not comprehensive. The Justice conducting the committal hearing is not concerned with any potential defences. Instead, they are only asking if there is evidence of an offence on which a properly instructed jury could return a finding of guilt.

Do I have the right to legal representation during the extradition process?

While a committal hearing is not a trial, you have the right to legal representation at each stage of the extradition process. This includes securing a lawyer for bail, legal counsel during the extradition hearing before a Justice, and representation before the Minister of Justice. 

Furthermore, you possess the right to appeal the decisions made to the Court of Appeal of the province in which the committal order was made. If you are initially unsuccessful at the extradition hearing, the prospect of appeal offers a glimmer of hope, even in challenging extradition cases.

Ultimately, the final decision of whether you will be handed over to the Requesting State rests with the Minister of Justice.

How do I avoid facing a trial outside of Canada?

The best way to avoid facing trial a trial outside Canada is to have a lawyer review the case against you, represent your interests at a committal hearing, and appeal to higher courts as necessary. Extradition proceedings are intended to move quickly. If your surrender is ordered after a committal hearing, you have just 30 days to appeal the decision to the Minister of Justice. That is why it is important to act fast from the moment you suspect that you may become the subject of an ATP.

Who can I talk to if I have more questions about extradition?

A lawyer at Pringle Law can give you advice about what to do if you fear you are going to be extradited. Contact us for advice.