ATC110907: Report on Extradition Treaty between the Government of the Republic of South Africa & the Islamic Republic of Iran

Justice and Correctional Services

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development on the Extradition Treaty between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Islamic Republic of Iran, dated 7 September 2011:


The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, having considered the request that Parliament approves the ratification of the Extradition Treaty between the Republic of South Africa and the Islamic Republic of South Africa, recommends that the House approves the Treaty in terms of section 231(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.


The Committee reports further as follows:


1.       Many years have passed since this Treaty was signed in 2003 and its introduction to Parliament for approval in April this year. Although an explanation was given, the Committee finds the delay most undesirable: Much could have changed in the situation or circumstances of the parties in the intervening years. The time elapsed has also meant that those responsible for concluding the agreement were unable to be present to advise the Committee on the contents. The Committee asks that the Ministry look into the reasons for the delay to ensure that this is an isolated occurrence. The Committee also requests that, in future, those who are responsible for drafting an agreement are present when the Committee considers it.


2.       Although the Executive negotiates and signs international agreements, treaties are only binding once Parliament approves them. Parliament’s involvement takes place after an agreement is negotiated and signed, and is mostly limited to either approving or not approving. The Committee believes that consideration needs to be given to the development of a mechanism that will allow parliamentary committees to become involved in discussions, even at an informal level, at a much earlier stage.


3.       The Committee is concerned that the Islamic Republic of Iran may impose the death penalty or other corporal punishments on persons convicted of crimes in that country. The Treaty does allow a Requested State to refuse an extradition request if it ‘has substantial grounds to believe that the probable sentence on the offence in the Requesting State is qualitatively different from the probable sentence given on the same offence in the courts of the Requested State’. The Requested State may also refuse extradition unless the Requesting State undertakes or gives sufficient assurance that the person sought will not be detained without trial, tortured or treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way. Although these provisions appear adequate, the Committee would have preferred that the Treaty explicitly exclude the possibility of extradition where the death penalty is a competent sentence unless the necessary assurances are made.


4.       The Committee is also of the view that the Department of International Relations and Co-operation should investigate putting a mechanism in place to monitor the treatment of those extradited.


Report to be considered.


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