Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam during a press conference responding to news the AEC have lost 1,375 votes in the WA Senate recount. 31st of October 2013 Photographer: Jacky Ghosseinphoto.JPG Photo: Jacky GhosseinA China-Australia extradition treaty 10 years in the making looks set to be killed off in the Senate next week with Labor, the Greens and the crossbench expected to team up to stop ratification.
Nanjing Night Net

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is currently in Australia for discussions on trade, security and the extradition treaty, which was signed by John Howard back in 2007 but has never been ratified.

The move to disallow the treaty, led by Australian Conservatives senator Cory Bernardi, is an embarrassing blow for the Turnbull government, which quietly tabled the treaty for ratification on March 2.

On Thursday, Senator Bernardi announced he would move a motion on March 29 to stop the treaty’s ratification, citing concerns about human rights safeguards, the 99.9 per cent conviction rate in Chinese courts in 2015 and the fact Australia would be the first of the “five eyes” nations to sign a bilateral extradition treaty with China.

Australia, the US, Britain, New Zealand and Canada comprise the “five eyes” intelligence alliance.

Fairfax Media understands Labor’s 26 senators, the Nick Xenophon Team’s three senators and the nine Australian Greens are all-but certain to team up to block ratification of the treaty, which means it will not come into effect.

Labor flagged concerns about the treaty in a report released in December but it will not formally decide to back the disallowance motion until caucus discusses it next Tuesday.

Senator Bernardi told Fairfax Media: “Clearly there were very good reasons why this extradition treaty wasn’t ratified for over 10 years. I’ve heard no good reason to justify the change in position”.

Greens foreign affairs spokesman Scott Ludlam said his party had not formally adopted a position yet but “my inclination is that clearly, there are some serious issues with this treaty”.

Law Council of Australia president Fiona McLeod said her organisation had consistently advised against ratifying the treaty because “suspects cannot be assured a fair trial given the inadequate separation between Chinese courts and the Chinese government”.

“The Law Council notes that international extradition is important in ensuring that criminals are not able to evade justice, however, Australia must also ensure that treaties accord with fundamental rule-of-law principles and human rights obligations,” she said.

The federal government argues sufficient safeguards are in place and that the treaty would allow Australia to refuse extradition where a person could face the death penalty, torture, cruel treatment, or face political charges.

“All extradition requests are considered by the relevant minister on a case-by-case basis. The safeguards in this treaty, combined with the Extradition Act, enable the minister to consider all relevant humanitarian considerations,” a spokeswoman for Justice Minister Michael Keenan said earlier this week.

The extradition treaty facilitates each of the two nations being able to return an accused criminal to the other country to face trial but it can be disallowed by a majority of MPs in either the House or the Senate.

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