Since 2008 when I opened my own law office I became one of the most experienced lawyers in the domain of extraditions and European arrest warrants. This partly was due to the fact that earlier I had worked at the International Criminal Law Department for the Hungarian Ministry of Justice. But of course it was also due to my interest in criminal law and human rights. In this article I share some basic information about extraditions to and from Hungary.
Legal provisions on extradition
The Law of Extraditions covers both substantial and procedural rules. The substantial rules of extradition relate tothe following questions:
- who shall be extradited?
- to which country?
- for which offences?
- on what conditions?
Procedural rules govern the questions of deadlines, arrest, appeals etc.
Extradition: Sources of law in Hungary
In Hungary, just like in several other jurisdictions, extradition is regulated by a separate act of law: the Act number XXXVIII (38) of the year 1996 on International Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters.
This is the main source of law in all substantial and procedural questions of extradition. This act is especially relevant in cases where there is no treaty between Hungary and the foreign state in question.
If there is a bilateral or multilateral treaty on extradition between two states, that treaty shall be the primary source of law. The Act on Extradition shall be a subsidiary source of law applicable in questions not regulated by the treaty.
The Hungarian Act on Extraditions is in harmony with the norms of the European Treaty on Extraditions of 1957 to which Treaty Hungary has been a member since 1994.
Who makes the decison?
Decision making authority over extradition issues is split between the Metropolitan Court and the Minister of Justice.
The independent Court considers the
- legal conditions of the extradition and the
- arrest of the wanted person,
while the Minister of Justice helped by his Department of International Criminal Law makes the final decision in the question of extraditions.
Arrest for extradition
In Hungary from 2004 until 2015 arrest for extradition was the only coercive measure possible in an extradition procedure. There were no alternatives to being arrested in prison while awaiting judgment in his extradition case. My office took part in the indictment to the Hungarian Constitutional Court which had a major role in changing this system. In my opinion there are still problems with present rules. House arrest in the extradition process is possible only if the rate of punishment is below 5 years of imprisonment in the country seeking for extradition. This rule in my opinion is still unnecessarily restricting the human rights of people sought by extradition.
Successful cases in extradition