The procedure to grant or to request for extradition in Cameroon: How effective is Cameroon’s commitment to cooperate with other states in granting or requesting extradition
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“The law of extradition is founded upon the broad principle that is in the interest of civilized communities that crimes should not go unpunished and it is part of the comity of nations that one state should afford to another every assistance towards bringing persons guilty of such crimes to justice “ Lord Rusell in Re Arton.
There is universal righteous indignation against crimes as constituting a clog in the wheel of peace, security and progress of society. However, the advancement of globalization and the movement of persons from one territorial location to another gives persons the ability to commit a crime from one state and seek refuge in another state.
The sovereign nature of states prohibits the affected states to hunt the fugitive in the territory of another state. Hence, there is a need for states to cooperate to combat such crimes. One such means of cooperation is extradition which gives a state the ability to demand arrest and transfer of a fugitive criminal who committed a crime in its state and is present in the jurisdiction of another state in order to prosecute, convict, or enforce an already imposed sentence on him.
Extradition warranting cooperation between states is bound by treaties. Treaties make cooperation to extradite between states obligatory.
Treaty to some states act as the only ground to bind states cooperation to extradite such as the United States of America and Britain but to some states, with the absence of a treaty, they can still cooperate to extradite on grounds of an act of grace rather than obligation and such situation is on the grounds of reciprocity.
There exist no global extradition treaty of general application. However, the regime of extradition is built on bilateral and multilateral accords on extradition and also some multilateral covenants addressing some universal crimes such as war crimes, Genocide, Trafficking,and Terrorism which all carry provisions warranting states cooperation to extradite perpetrators of such crimes. Such cooperation is obligatory under the principle of “Aut dedere aut judicare”which means ‘to extradite or prosecute’. Also, some states have local legislations which warrant them to cooperate with other states for matters warranting extradition such as Cameroon.
States bound by treaties, domestic laws or both, do not always respect their obligations. Hence, putting stagnation in the pursuit of criminal justice by affected states.
Extradition as a subject is older than international law, as can be traced back in 1350BC as it appeared in the biblical Old Testament. The first extradition treaty was concluded in Circa in 1259 BC and it is one of the oldest document of diplomatic history concluded between Ramses II and the Hittite king. Extradition at this time till the late 18th century was not sought for ordinary crimes but rather political offences. Hence extradition had manifested itself as a practice designed to protect the personal interest of Monarchs and the political and religious interest of states and had nothing to do with the maintenance of internal order.
However, this position gradually shifted to serve xenophobic and militaristic tendencies, before it finally evolves into an international means of cooperation in the suppression of criminality.
After gaining their independence, some African states entered into an inheritance agreement or made a unilateral declaration of continuity with their former administering powers with respect to extradition commitment. British former territories prepared a list of applied treaties for continuous use and pre-independent extradition treaties have been engulfed into their local legislations. Within francophone states on the other hand, the problem has been largely untouched as many states appear never to have received from France a definite list of pre-independent treaty commitments.
Cameroon from independence has put in place an appropriate framework for mutual assistance to combat crimes. Within its domestic laws, extradition is found in part XI of the criminal procedure code. Cameroon is also a signatory to several bilateral accords with other states such as Mali, The Democratic Republic of Congo and France.
In addition to which Cameroon is a signatory to several multilateral treaties on extradition such as the general convention on judicial cooperation signed under the auspices of former African and Malagasy common organization (the Antananarivo Convention), the extradition accord of the economic and monetary community of central Africa (CEMAC Accord), the London agreement on extradition with the commonwealth.
Adding to the above treaties are international conventions against some universal crimes to which Cameroon has signed and ratified. With such treaties and local laws, Cameroon is warranted to fully cooperate during extradition. However, it is not often the case as states in general and Cameroon, in particular, does not always commit themselves to extradition requests.
Extradition rest between a dual interest one of which is state sovereignty which entails the preference of one’s own system and on the other hand a community interest and solidarity amongst states in combating crimes which require trust in the legal system of others. States have engaged more into treaties warranting extradition after the birth of the UN, with its charter that guarantees the non-use of force and equality amongst states. In this light, Cameroon has engaged in several multilateral and bilateral accords on extradition and has also put in place domestic legislation embedded in the Criminal Procedure Code(CPC) to guarantee full cooperation to extradite.
With such laws in place, Cameroon still faces some stagnations. One of them is the lack of full engagement to cooperate and also a violation of the rights of the individual. These are some of the issues this work seeks to address.
The inconsistency as to what constitutes a political offence which is one of the reasons for the refusal of extradition. Such inconsistency is seen as there exists no guide on what constitutes a political offence that is of universal application. Hence, states usually have different dimension as to what constitutes a political offence. Therefore, making cooperation to extradite difficultly. This makes fugitives who have committed crimes in another state to seek refuge in Cameroon, making Cameroon a safe-heaven for them.
Extradition not regulated by a single international accord also poses a problem. Cameroon relies on its bilateral, multilateral agreements, local legislations to bind it. However, some states rely entirely on treaties to warrant cooperation to extradite.
Hence making full cooperation between Cameroon and such states difficult. Added to this is the fact that the multiple bilateral and multilateral treaties with their different conditions and procedure for extradition bring forth a problem of inconsistency as fugitives with similar cases may end up with different results due to the applicability of two different treaties.
Furthermore, one of the problems faced is the procedure to either request for extradition or to grant extradition. The procedure involves a diplomatic and judicial process. The executive initiate and finalizes extradition. It becomes a problem as they will admire state interest above the quest of justice hence limiting the ability to fully cooperate. Added to this is the denial of the accused person’s right to a fair trial during the procedure.
All through the course of this study and from the above statement of the problem, this work shall attempt to exhaustively provide answers to the following questions which act as a realm for this research. These questions include inter alia:
- What is the concept of extradition?
- Which procedure is followed to grant or request for extradition in Cameroon?
- How effective is Cameroon’s commitment to extradite with other states?
- Which policy recommendations are necessary to facilitate Cameroon’s full commitment to extradite?
The overall goal of this work is to analyze the concept of extradition, addressing how effective is Cameroon’s commitment to cooperate with other states in granting or requesting for extradition.
To achieve the above goal, the following objectives must be addressed:
- To examine the concept of extradition;
- To examine the procedure to grant or to request for extradition in Cameroon;
- To appraise Cameroon’s commitment to extradite with other states;
- To propose recommendations that will facilitate full cooperation