The House of Representatives on Tuesday (June 22), passed the Extradition (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
The rationale for the amendments came out of concerns expressed by the United States State Department on the difficulty in acquiring the affidavits of victims, particularly in cases of lotto scamming and fraud, in extradition proceedings.
“This is so because a number of the persons that are scammed are elderly and some suffer from Alzheimer’s, and although there is very good documentary evidence, the possibility of getting affidavit evidence from them has proven to be extremely difficult,” Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck, said.
Recognising the difficulties, which were also shared by the Director of Public Prosecutions, who agreed with the challenges encountered and to the amendment of the law, the Government of Jamaica decided that it would amend the Act to allow for the admission of certain other certified documents in extradition proceedings.
“It must be pointed out that the criteria for these certified documents are listed in Article VIII of the 1983 Extradition Treaty between Jamaica and the United States. The provisions extracted from the Treaty will be of general application in the Extradition Act,” Mr. Chuck said.
He explained that the amendments seek to clarify and amplify the law, and will not infringe the rights of any person being sought for extradition, whether to the United States or to any other country.
The Minister noted that the amendments will highlight the law on the types of evidence that is accepted in extradition proceedings.
The Bill seeks to amend the Extradition Act to provide for the admission of evidence in the form of records of evidence of the case in extradition hearings and allow any Judge of the Parish Court, whether or not that Judge is within the same jurisdiction as the person who is being sought for extradition, to issue an arrest warrant for the purpose of committal.
Mr. Chuck said the amendments will explicitly allow for the admission of records of the evidence of a case, which will be in addition to the other forms of evidence already permitted under the Act.
“The Bill defines records of the evidence of the case to include, among other things, documents or statements which describe the identity and probable location of the person sought, and statements of the facts of the case, including the time and location of the offence,” he noted.
Mr. Chuck said this definition of records of evidence of the case in the Bill is simply a recital of Article VIII (2) of the Extradition Treaty with the United States.
“The amendments to the Extradition Act do not interfere with the Court’s inherent power to request more evidence or to deny the request if the evidence presented is not deemed satisfactory or sufficient to accede to the extradition request,” the Minister said.