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ResourcesThailand Criminal LawCriminal Jurisprudence ThailandThailand Criminal Law: Extradition Issues Discussed

Thailand Criminal Law: Extradition Issues Discussed

Transcript of the above video:

In this video today as the title suggests, we are going to be discussing extradition in a criminal law context. This video should be viewed simply as an overview of some things having to do with extradition. It should not be viewed as exhaustive on the topic or specific to the facts of a given case. 

That being said, Thailand does often see issues involving extradition or usage of an extradition treaty to essentially deport a foreign national here in the Kingdom off to another country in order to face criminal charges in that country. Some things to keep in mind with respect to extradition and basically, first of all before I go into some highlights regarding the law, some things to take note of is the fact that Thailand has a number of extradition treaties and extradition arrangements with a number of different jurisdictions. This isn't a country that is, I would NOT argue that this is a jurisdiction to flee to if one were seeking to avoid some sort of criminal consequences or legal consequences associated with a criminal matter in another jurisdiction because Thailand simply isn't a jurisdiction which has shielded itself from extradition, or has shielded foreigners in the country from extradition; that may be more relevant in this video. The other thing to keep in mind, Thai Law Enforcement does deal a great deal with various other law agencies from around the world. Various other law enforcement agencies have operations in Thailand, have a presence in Thailand, and the Thai Authorities cooperate quite frequently with those other agencies and for that reason again there is probably going to be a much more streamlined system of extraditing somebody from the Kingdom here than you would see in maybe some other jurisdictions.

Some highlights with respect to extradition specifically, basically one of the first things that has to occur with respect to extradition is the matter, the underlying matter which the extradition pertains to, so basically the charge in the country requesting the expedition, the crime that is being dealt with has to also be a crime in Thailand, so something that is not illegal in Thailand one cannot extradite a foreign national from Thailand for something that is not a crime in Thailand.  Another thing to think about with respect to extradition, and specific to Thailand is, they only pertain to Foreign Nationals so trying to extradite a Thai National from Thailand, although Thailand may allow it; I guess they could in their discretion, authorities could allow that, it is very unlikely to see that happen and in fact specifically under the provisions of most of the extradition agreements I have ever seen, specifically Thai Nationals or I should say the Nationals of either countries, let's say the Thai authorities  are trying to extradite somebody from another country say the United States, a US citizen is no, isn't specifically exempt, a citizen from one of the nation's is specifically exempt from this Expedition Treaty so Thailand can just say no we are not interested in even dealing with that we are not going to give you a chance to extradite this individual we are simply ignoring the request when it pertains to a Thai National so it should be noted that this generally pertains to foreign nationals in Thailand. 

Another thing with respect to the underlying offense, it can't be something of a political nature per se or by extension, associated with say the military. So again this is going to be very circumstantially dependent but if the underlying crime is something politically motivated, extradition probably doesn't apply in that case.

So regarding the underlying crime for which an individual is being extradited for, the statutorily required punishment or if the punishment is doled out by a Judge, but if there is sort of a common law regime in effect where a punishment has already been set forth, the punishment has to be at least one year in duration for the crime being dealt with. So if the requesting party is requesting someone be extradited back to their home country for something like driving under the Influence for example, it's a first offense, there is not probably not going to be any prison time associated with that, at least in the United States and for that reason extradition and the treaty pertaining to extradition is not going to apply. So the thing to take away from that, most misdemeanors are not going to be subject to extradition. The final thing to take away from extradition is, it is in and of itself, it's not only sort of a procedural proceeding for determining whether or not an individual is going to be essentially deported back to another country, either their home country or third party country to face trial but there is also kind of a mini trial aspect associated with extradition and what I mean to say is, it is sort of like a truncated trial  if you will. I mean the requesting state has to put up a pretty substantially convincing case that not only a crime was committed but that the individual being extradited is in fact the individual that did fact commit it.  So that is an element of this that is somewhat of a trial in and of itself and if a Judge determines that there is not sufficient evidence to warrant extradition, then extradition may be denied. Extradition may be denied if any or all of the previously mentioned prongs of the analysis are not met as well as the issue of whether or not the individual in question is a National of Thailand.  A Thai National isn't going to be immediately subject to the extradition treaty rules.

So the thing to take away from this is video is extradition does exist. Minor crimes may, extradition may not apply, and the thing to take away from this is this is not a jurisdiction where one would opt to flee if they are trying to escape a foreign criminal court for example, because criminal justice systems around the world cooperate rather frequently with the criminal justice system here in Thailand and the extradition policies of Thailand are such that I don't think that this is a place that one is particularly going to find some paradise to flee arrest or imprisonment.