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The universality of human rights in UK extradition law

Arnell, Paul



The question of the universality of human rights has arisen in the context of United Kingdom and European Court of Human Rights extradition jurisprudence. It is a consequence of the law requiring that all extraditions must be compatible with human rights. Originating in the European Court of Human Rights, and now found in the Extradition Act 2003, this obligation is firmly entrenched in UK extradition law and practice. Difficulties have resulted following the particular interpretation of the nature and scope of article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950. That article prohibits torture and inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment. It has been held to be an absolute prohibition. Courts have grappled with whether absoluteness means universality. That is, whether the nature and scope of the prohibition as applied within the territory of the Council of Europe applies similarly to conditions and policies in requesting states. If so, extradition may be stymied on account of differences in criminal justice policies. Sentencing practices and prison conditions are the two facets of practice of particular relevance. This article considers the context and jurisprudence around extradition and the universality of human rights. It concludes that universal human rights and effective transnational criminal cooperation may never be fully accommodated.


ARNELL, P. 2022. The universality of human rights in UK extradition law. Transnational criminal law review [online], 1(1), pages 52-68. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 20, 2022
Online Publication Date Aug 28, 2022
Publication Date Jun 30, 2022
Deposit Date Aug 29, 2022
Publicly Available Date Aug 29, 2022
Journal Transnational criminal law review
Publisher University of Windsor
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 1
Issue 1
Pages 53-68
Keywords Extradition; Inter-state cooperation; Human rights; Universality; Jurisdiction
Public URL


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