EXTRADITION IN THE CASE OF EGYPT: A Treaty Ensuring The Opposite Effect Of Its Purpose.


Al-Jazeera Journalist Prisoners

Al-Jazeera Journalist Prisoners

Extradition refers to the transfer of a criminal from one country to another on the basis of nationality and the concept of external sovereignty of nations over its citizens. Extradition works on the basis of a primary bilateral agreement between civilized nations that exchange their respective criminals of foreign nationality to their origin nation-states in return for a reciprocal treatment concerning their own criminals abroad. Even though; the concept of extradition is legally based; legality/legal integrity is almost never the reason nations seek its application. Extradition is rather used for political purposes as it is not a universal concept of international law and is conducted through bi-lateral/multi-lateral agreement (treaty). Due to the nature of extradition agreements, each extradition treaty differs from the next with its own set of conditioned crimes that apply for extradition and reservations/exceptions to the extradition pact.

Article III, in my opinion, overshadows the implied purpose of extradition. As stated earlier extradition follows a legal context and a political context; which is arguably most important about extradition treaties. The legal reasons or motives of extradition treaties appear in the case of Egyptians living in the United States illegally (without a visa/work/family) or vice versa in which case the illegal occupants will be sent back to their country. Similarly if they had a legal living status, but committed one of the mentioned crimes in Article II; in which case they will be deported to their homeland to be tried and punished according to their homeland’s laws (as opposed to the laws of the country in which the crime was committed). This should work to the benefit of all of the parties but in reality it does not. In the case of an American committing a crime in Egypt; an extradition agreement’s application would only mean that the criminal would spend his/her time in a prison in America rather than in Egypt. Egypt would have one less criminal in prison and the US would have one more. The result is, therefore, minute and not international in nature. In other words, it defeats the purpose of an international extradition agreement that seeks more influential exchange of criminals that would create a gain for both states. In this case, however, it seems as if no state really gains anything and if any gain is awarded it is awarded to the criminal who escapes a longer incarceration period that usually results if the countries do not have an already set extradition agreement that saves time in legal proceedings between negotiating states. If it were a US citizen in Saudi Arabia and the crime was burglary, for example, it would have had a more obvious implication as the laws in Saudi Arabia differ drastically in this crime than that of the US; in which case the international sovereignty of the US would be jeopardized if Saudi Arabia is allowed to sever US citizens at the wrist or, even worse, exercise the death penalty on an American.

The more desired exchange of criminals that extradition agreements are made for concern precisely “political characters” which purposely flee their nation-states to escape the grip of the state which wants to apply justice and sovereignty over them. Extradition agreements are thus concluded to limit the places which these people can escape to. Article III, in turn, negates the purpose of the whole agreement and creates a supervening impossibility of performance that is not easily traceable without an extensively analytical interpretation of its future application (impossible to foresee in 1984).


In fact, according to the official bilateral extradition treaties records of the United States; Egypt is the only Arab country besides Turkey that has an extradition treaty with the US.

It is up until very recently that newly elected President Abdel-Fatah El Sisi started to take action towards concluding more extradition treaties due to the fundamental change of circumstances; i.e. the Jan 25th Revolution ousting the Mubarak Regime and the 30th of June Uprising that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood from office. These events led to the escape of many political characters that were under trial for a cornucopia of crimes against the state to the Gulf countries. Since then, President Sisi has, according to Al-Monitor and The Cairo Post, issued a decree on the extradition of foreign defendants to uplift Egypt’s state-benefit and international image. This, of course, was a response to the controversy over the Al-Jazeera journalists who were treated as political characters with the accusations of fueling violence and political turmoil through false information during the uprisings of Jan 25th and June 30th. However, this was accompanied with firm extradition agreements with the Gulf States of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and 3 other nations not including the infamous Brotherhood-supporting Qatar; to whom the Egyptian government is still trying to conclude extradition agreements with. These agreements were purely political as they were designed “requesting the arrest and extradition of 28 Brotherhood leaders who fled to these states after the events of June 30”.

It is clear through these actions that the Ottoman Empire extradition agreement is actually more symbolic than a functional agreement such as that between Egypt and the Gulf States which actually has a designated list of targets that the agreement is set for. It translates, to me, as a status-quo oriented contract that is rather a show of allegiance rather than an agreement towards a mutual benefit/cooperation. The supervening impossibility of performance caused by Article III makes the agreement minute in effect as it only relates to ordinary criminals and only serves their benefit in escaping unnecessary incarceration before their actual trial until preliminary agreement is reached between the states on their fates.

In conclusion, extradition is highly political rather than legally motivated; which makes the Ottoman treaty ineffective in application due to Article III of the treaty. It can be proven through that extradition contracts are highly political through a comparison of the Ottoman Treaty with the new extradition laws passed by Sisi nowadays which are highly politically motivated. This is not to imply that they bypass or interfere or even relate to the Ottoman treaty which is only relevant to US/Egypt criminal exchange but; it juxtaposes with the treaty to argue that the Ottoman treaty is ineffective since it does not allow the exchange of political characters (Article III) which is precisely the subject of agreement of the current extradition treaties in the Gulf countries. Moreover, the Ottoman treaty is rather symbolic of the “good relations” between the regional power states (the West/The Middle East) but has no real application due to the highly political nature of extradition that contrasts sharply with Article III of the treaty which protects political characters.

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