Mutual Legal Cooperation

Author:International Law Group

With Decision 2003/516/EC, the European Union Council has authorized the signature of two agreements with the U.S. on extradition and mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. The negotiations for these agreements began last year after a Council Decision of April 26, 2002, and the agreements were signed in Washington, D.C., on June 25, 2003.

Annexed to the Decision are the two respective agreements, the "Agreement on extradition between the European Union and the United States of America," and the "Agreement on mutual legal assistance between the European Union and the United States of America."

The Agreement on extradition provides for extradition in cases where the crime at issue is punishable in both the EU and the U.S. with at least one year imprisonment (Article 4). Requests for provisional arrests may be made directly between the Ministries of Justice of the requesting and the requested States, as an alternative to the diplomatic channel. Interpol may also be used to transmit such requests (Article 6). If a requesting State receives several extradition requests for the same person, it may choose the State to which to extradite the person, considering factors such as where the offense was committed, the nationality of the victim, and chronological order of the extradition requests received (Article 10). If the crime is punishable by death in the requesting State, the requested State may extradite on condition that the death penalty will not be imposed (Article 13).

Attached to the Agreement is an Explanatory Note that explains that Article 10 is not intended to affect the obligations of the...

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