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Extradition, Human Rights, Trial Within a Reasonable Time, ICCPR, Canada, Charter


Extradition – the formal rendition of criminal fugitives between states – is well-known to be a time-consuming process that often has impacts, minor or major, on the ability of states to complete prosecution in a timely manner. Thus, the extradition process can sometimes be at odds with the right to trial within a reasonable time, which is part of the overall package of fair trial rights enshrined in international human rights law. In Canada, this right is implemented by paragraph 11(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In recent years Canadian courts have developed a series of principles to be applied to cases where extradition is involved in claims of trial delay. These range from the prosecution’s obligation to pursue timely trial in a diligent manner, to the extent to which extradition should simply be treated as procedurally neutral, to the attribution of delays when an accused has deliberately left the country to avoid prosecution. This body of case law is surveyed and analyzed in this article, as a means of providing an illustrative example of state practice regarding this right. The authors conclude that while Canadian law on this question is not entirely coherent internally, it generally complies with international standards.