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Botting invited to international extradition forum in England

published August 3, 2016

British Columbia lawyer and legal scholar Dr. Gary Botting has been invited to participate in an international forum on extradition Aug. 28-30 at Worcester College at the University of Oxford in England — very near the place of his birth.

The advanced seminar, “International Extradition and the European Arrest Warrant (EAW),” will investigate current worldwide developments in extradition law, including the likelihood of the implementation of a North American Arrest Warrant and the real possibility of the EAW being undermined by popular British sentiment that Britain should leave the European Union, organizers state. The European Union replaced traditional, treaty-based extradition with the EAW in 2002.

Botting, the author of seven books on extradition, is a strong advocate of retaining traditional extradition processes through the treaty system rather than implementing a warrant system by which persons who are alleged to have committed criminal offences are turned over to authorities for trial on request.

“The concept of a Canada-wide warrant works inter-provincially within Canada, where we share a Criminal Code,” Botting tells AdvocateDaily, “but it doesn’t work between countries where criminal procedure and sanctions are substantially different.”

He gave the example of Hassan Diab — Canada extradited the Canadian university sociology professor to France 19 months ago to face allegations of involvement in a 1980 terrorist attack on a French synagogue despite the fact no criminal charges were laid against him.

“To date, they still have not been laid, while he moulders in prison," Botting says.

“The inquisitorial system of justice obviously leaves much to be desired. Canada extradites its citizens to face trial, not imprisonment without trial. On the other hand, under its laws and treaties, France cannot extradite its own citizens. We in Canada, a common law country, do not have this protection.

“The double standard is nothing short of egregious.”

A North American warrant system could open the floodgates for the United States to prosecute Canadians who are alleged to have offended against the U.S., even though they have not crossed the border, Botting says. He cites a case currently due to be heard by the B.C. Court of Appeal, where five accused in the interior of that province are alleged to have hollowed out logs that were subsequently stuffed with marijuana and transported to Ontario, California.

None of them is alleged to have set foot in the U.S.

The Oxford conference will compare bilateral extradition treaties with the EAW system, and will examine such famous international extradition cases as Assange, Polanski, Pinochet and Peltier. It will also discuss unlawful and disguised forms of extradition such as extraordinary rendition (e.g. Maher Arar) and expulsion of aliens without due process (e.g. Pursley v. Canada).

Botting will join extradition experts Stefano Maffei of Italy, Adrian Haase of Germany, David Sonenshein of the U.S., and Mark Summers of the United Kingdom. The conference is billed as “ideal for criminal offence attorneys, federal and state judges, prosecutors, federal-law enforcement, as well as academic lawyers with an interest in criminal justice, human rights and comparative law.”

“The law of extradition and the surrender of persons – whether merely suspects or already convicted before foreign courts – is becoming more and more central in international debates on criminal justice, due to the increased mobility of criminals in a globalised world,” conference organizer Dr. Maffei stated in a news release, adding the conference “is meant to become a yearly meeting of experts in this relatively new area of law and practice.”

According to a brochure advertising the conference, “The Oxford program consists of a series of closed-door seminars held by international extradition experts... . Seminars will be conducted through an innovative learning-by-doing style,” including group discussions and simulations of extradition and EAW proceedings.

The conference will wind up with a tour of “Legal London” on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, including the Inns of Court, Old Bailey and the Supreme Court.

Botting, who has eight degrees to his name, including three doctorates, has long been an advocate of advanced academic education for lawyers once they have experience practising law. He agrees that graduate study is no replacement for that experience.

“However, there comes a point where education supplants experience in importance,” says Botting, who recommends periodic sabbaticals for lawyers so that they can obtain advanced degrees.

A latecomer to the practice of law, Botting gained experience as a journalist, writing for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Later, he became an English teacher, professor of English literature and creative writing, poet and playwright before entering law school at 45, after publishing the controversial The Orwellian World of Jehovah’s Witnesses (University of Toronto Press, 1984.)

Botting was born near Oxford, England 73 years ago and from age 10 was raised and educated in Canada.