Abolishing death penalty: Extradition will still be a problem

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will face problems in extraditing criminals from various countries despite the Law Commission's recommendations for speedy abolition of the death penalty from the statute books.

In a report prepared by the Asian Centre for Human Rights in a report titled "India: Not Safe for Extradition of those facing Death Penalty", it is stated that the CBI will face legal hurdles from 158 countries while seeking extradition of suspects and accused including those accused of terrorism.

Death Penalty

Execution will impact extradition:

The report states that as on July 31, 2015, the CBI had issued about red corner notices to 650 suspects/accused either to face prosecution or to serve a penal sentence.

Of these, 192 wanted persons have been charged under laws that provides for death penalty as punishment such as under the Arms Act, Indian Penal Code, the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crimes Act, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act and the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 2002.

Out of 192 wanted persons, 124 are wanted for committing terrorist offences.

However, the execution of three terror convicts i.e. Ajmal Kasab , Afzal Guru and Yakub Abdul Razak Memon in the last three years has seriously impacted India's requests for extradition from a number of countries which have abolished death penalty, the report also states.

A total of 140 countries have abolished death penalty and further, a total of 158 countries have ratified the UN Convention Against Torture which under Article 3 prohibits return ("refouler") or extradition of a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

Apart from the European Union, Canada, Mexico, South Africa and Philippines seek assurance that the death penalty shall not be carried out in case of extradition of those charged with offences carrying death sentence.

Where India has failed:

India has failed to secure extradition of Mohammed Hanif Umerji Patel @Tiger Hanif, an alleged associate of the underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, who is wanted in India for his role in two terror attacks in Surat city of Gujarat in January and April 1993.

"If the government of India can give assurance to Portugal that death penalty shall not be imposed on Abu Salem who has been accused of the same offences for which Yakub Memon had been hanged, there is no reason as to why death penalty cannot be abolished altogether. It is the fear of the law, not necessarily death penalty, that can act as deterrent", says Suhas Chakma, Coordinator of the National Campaign for Abolition of Death Penalty.

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