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Understanding the extradition process and where to seek help

Worldwide, crime crosses borders, and it is a problem that requires multinational solutions. Sometimes, alleged participants in criminal activities end up across borders from the country where the incidents took place. This complicates investigations, and it led to the development of extradition agreements, which are tools to bring about international cooperation. Canada has treaties with countries like the United States when it comes to investigations and prosecutions to contain cross-border crime.

If you are the subject of an extradition request by another country, it will naturally be a frightening experience, as you could potentially face severe consequences, including an extended period of incarceration.

How does extradition work?

Under the Extradition Act, Canadian authorities can extradite an individual to one of its partners. Countries with which Canada has extradition agreements -- they can be bilateral, multilateral or case-specific -- can request the extradition of a suspected criminal. The following legal steps will take place:

  • Authority to Proceed: Extradition action cannot proceed without the authorization of the Minister of Justice.
  • Evidence: Once authorized, it is up to the Canadian courts to examine the available evidence to determine whether the accused should be committed for extradition.
  • Order to surrender: The Minister of Justice will have the final decision when it comes to ordering the individual to surrender to the foreign country.
  • The right to appeal: The accused individual has the right to appeal by requesting a review of the order to surrender.

Your rights to legal counsel

Regardless of whether you are an immigrant, a visitor to Canada or a Canadian citizen, you have the right to retain the services of a lawyer who has experience in all matters related to the justice system and international crime. Before you surrender, a lawyer can assist you in the following ways:

  • Have obligations been met? A lawyer can examine the legal documents to determine the validity of the extradition request.
  • Bail: He or she can work on convincing court authorities to release you on bail and with the request to review the surrender order.
  • Foreign assistance: Your lawyer can arrange for legal counsel to protect your interests and rights in the foreign country -- in the event that the extradition is granted.
  • Fight to stop extradition: Your legal counsel will naturally fight to prevent the extradition. However, he or she can also present the Minister with arguments to include conditions that will favour or benefit you with which foreign authorities must comply if you surrender.
  • Negotiations with foreign officials: If you do surrender, your lawyer can handle negotiations related to penalties, bail and other legal aspects with the officials in the foreign country.

Exercise your rights

Without gaining the necessary legal knowledge, you could jeopardize your chances of fair treatment. You may not even be aware that you have rights and a possible legal chance to remain in Canada. Waiving your extradition rights and surrendering could leave you at a disadvantage of starting the legal process on foreign soil rather than with the support and guidance of legal counsel in Canada.

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