Know more about the extradition laws of British Nationals in the UAE

criminal law


May 19, 2021



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An extradition request can be understood as an action where one sovereign jurisdiction requests another jurisdiction to deliver to the former country, a person accused or convicted of specified crimes, located in the requested country. Acceptance of an extradition request involves transferring the physical custody of the accused person to the legal authority of the requesting jurisdiction.

The jurisdiction that makes the extradition request is known as the “requesting state,” and the jurisdiction to which the extradition request has been made is called the “requested state”. Extradition law in itself is a cooperative law and depends on international covenants, regional or bilateral treaties entered into between the nations, and routine procedures followed for extradition. Typically, in cases where the countries have a treaty or convention in place, the procedure of extradition may be broadly explained as follows: the requesting jurisdiction sends a request for the extradition of the accused, the requested jurisdiction may conduct a search for the requested fugitive, and if the fugitive is found within the territory of the requested jurisdiction, then arrest is proceeded with and the next steps for extradition are initiated. All the procedures that apply to extradition occur generally as per the treaty or in the event there is no treaty, then the domestic law of extradition of the requested state will be applicable.

Laws & Treaties 

The domestic law on extradition in the UAE is Federal Law Number 39 of 2006 On International Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters (Extradition Law). This law was issued by the government of UAE to govern, amongst others, extradition requests that are submitted before the government of UAE.

Additionally, the government of UAE has executed bilateral treaties with several countries in order to set out the procedure and method of extradition, both in respect of requests received and submitted in such countries. UAE has signed treaties with, amongst others, China, Egypt, Pakistan, India, the United Kingdom, Iran, France and Australia.

Similarly, the government has also signed the Riyadh Convention regarding Judicial Cooperation between all Arab Countries such as Bahrain, Iran, Tunisia, Lebanon, Libya, Jordan, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Morocco.

Extradition Treaty Between UK and UAE

The United Kingdom and UAE have executed an extradition treaty and accordingly, it is the extradition treaty which will apply to a request for extradition of an accused in the UAE.

Article 3(1) of the treaty states that either party may extradite its nationality to the other party as permitted by its domestic law. In this connection, Article 9 of the UAE Extradition Law prohibits the extradition of a UAE national. Article 3(2) of the treaty further states that if the requested party refuses to extradite one of its nationals on the grounds of nationality, it undertakes, upon request, in accordance with its domestic law, to prosecute that person if he or she has committed an offence which is defined in both states as a criminal offence. In this case, the requesting party will send a request for prosecution through diplomatic channels. The requesting party will be made aware of the result of its request. 

Article 7 of the extradition treaty states that all requests for extradition will be submitted through diplomatic channels and are required to be supplemented by supporting documents, as specified by the treaty.  

Article 4(1) of the extradition treaty sets out the grounds upon which an extradition request will be refused, and these include:

  1. If the Requested Party has substantial grounds for believing that the extradition request has been made to prosecute or punish a person on account of that person’s race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, political opinions, sex or status.

  2. If the person sought has been tried and convicted or acquitted by a final judgement in either State or in a third state of the offence for which extradition is requested.

  3. When the prosecution of the person sought would be barred by lapse of time under the domestic law of the Requested Party.

  4. If the offence for which extradition has been requested is a military offence and not also an offence under ordinary domestic criminal law.

  5. Where extradition would breach the person’s human rights in accordance with the domestic law of the Requested Party. 

  6. If the person has been convicted in absentia unless assurance is provided that the person will be entitled to a retrial or appeal amounting to a retrial under the domestic law of the Requesting Party.

  7. Where extradition is barred for any other reason under the domestic law of the Requested Party.

Article 4(2) of the extradition treaty also sets out the grounds on which extradition may be refused under the treaty. The reasons include: (a) if the person has been granted political asylum by the requested country; (b) when the person sought is under investigation or has been prosecuted and is undergoing punishment in the requested party. The requested country is entitled to defer the extradition until the person completes his sentence or is discharged. 

Provisional Arrest

The UK-UAE extradition treaty also provides for provisional arrest in case of urgency. Under Article 11 of the extradition treaty, the person to be extradited may be provisionally arrested and held in remand until the extradition request, along with supporting documents, as required, are received.

The request for provisional arrest is to be communicated in writing to the requested party, either directly or through INTERPOL. The request for provisional arrest should contain the details of the person sought, along with information related to his identity and location, a brief statement of facts of the matter, including the date and location of the offence, laws violation, arrest order or judgment of conviction against the person sought, and a statement confirming that the supporting documents for the requested person will follow within the specified time.

In accordance with Article 11/5 of the extradition treaty, a person who has been arrested may be discharged from custody upon the expiry of sixty days if the formal request for extradition and supporting documents are not received. That said, Article 6 of the treaty clarifies that a person who has been released may still be re-arrested and extradited on receipt of the extradition request and supporting documents at a later date.

Capital Punishment

In accordance with Article 6 of the treaty, when the offence for which extradition is sought is punishable by death under the laws of the requested party and is not punishable by death under the laws of the requested party, the requested party may refuse extradition unless the requesting party provides an assurance that the death penalty will not be imposed, or, if imposed, will not be carried out.

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