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What are Rules and Regulations of International Extradition and When is it Legitimate?

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The extradition of the Israeli-Russian blogger Alexander Lapshin from Belarus to Azerbaijan has been under the focus of not only the regional media but also the international community.

What are the rules and regulations of the international extradition process and when it can be considered legitimate?

Extradition is the official process whereby one country transfers a suspected or convicted criminal to another country. Between countries, extradition is normally regulated by treaties. Where extradition is compelled by laws, such as among sub-national jurisdictions, the concept may be known more generally as rendition.

Through the extradition process, a sovereign (the requesting state) typically makes a formal request to another sovereign (the requested state). If the fugitive is found within the territory of the requested state, then the requested state may arrest the fugitive and subject him or her to its extradition process. The extradition procedures to which the fugitive will be subjected are dependent on the law and practice of the requested state.

The consensus in international law is that a state does not have any obligation to surrender an alleged criminal to a foreign state, because 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 for the right to demand such criminals from other countries, have caused a web of extradition treaties or agreements to evolve. When no applicable extradition agreement is in place, a sovereign may still request the expulsion or lawful return of an individual pursuant to the requested state’s domestic law. This can be accomplished through the immigration laws of the requested state or other facets of the requested state’s domestic law. Similarly, the codes of penal procedure in many countries contain provisions allowing for extradition to take place in the absence of an extradition agreement. Sovereigns may, therefore, still request the expulsion or lawful return of a fugitive from the territory of a requested state in the absence of an extradition treaty.

No country in the world has an extradition treaty with all other countries; for example, the United States lacks extradition treaties with Russia, the People's Republic of China, Namibia, the United Arab Emirates, North Korea, Bahrain, and many other countries.

A concept related to extradition that has significant implications in transnational criminal law is that of aut dedere aut judicare. This maxim represents the principle that states must either surrender a criminal within their jurisdiction to a state that wishes to prosecute the criminal or prosecute the offender in its own courts. Many international agreements contain provisions for aut dedere aut judicare. These include all four 1949 Geneva Conventions, the U.N. Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, the U.N. Convention Against Corruption, the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of an Armed Conflict, and the International Convention for the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.

According to the ''e'' point of the first paragraph of Article 89 by the European Convention, it is forbidden to extradite a person where there are substantial grounds for believing that the person is pursued for his racial, gender, religious, ethnicity or political beliefs.

According to the Chamber of Advocates of Armenia, Azerbaijan carries out the persecution of Lapshin for his political beliefs and professional activities.

Thus Lapshin prosecution is contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that everyone has the right of freedom of opinion and speech.

On these very grounds Belarus had absolutely no right to extradite blogger Alexander Lapshin.

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