Global Insider: Russia’s Questionable Prisoner Transfers Go Largely Uncriticized

Global Insider: Russia’s Questionable Prisoner Transfers Go Largely Uncriticized

Last week, Amnesty International reported that Russia, Ukraine and several former Soviet states were cooperating in illegal rendition programs, while Russian President Vladimir Putin declined to extradite Edward Snowden, the former U.S. government contractor who confessed to having leaked classified information on U.S. surveillance programs and who remains in a Moscow airport. In an email interview, Jacques Hartmann, a lecturer at the University of Dundee Law School who specializes in international law and extradition, explained Russia’s extradition and rendition practices, their political drivers and their legal implications.

WPR: What are the main deciding factors when Russia considers an extradition or rendition?

Jacques Hartmann: Extradition is an official process whereby a suspected offender or fugitive is surrendered from one state to another in order to stand trial or serve a sentence of imprisonment. There are many factors that may influence a state’s decision whether or not to follow this official procedure, the most important being time, as extradition proceedings can take years. In some cases, even the process of extradition is used to mask political motives, as in the case of Savriddin Dzhurayev, who in 2009 was arrested in Russia based on an extradition request from Tajikistan, for allegedly having destabilized the political situation in Tajikistan in 1992, when he was just seven years old. In other cases the official process is completely ignored and people are simply abducted. Surrender outside the official process is commonly referred to as “rendition,” a practice that the European Court of Human Rights has characterized as an absolute negation of the rule of law.

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