National Security 101: Extradition Of Criminals Internationally

Extradition Hong Kong China Malaysia Law Indira Gandhi Muhammad Riduan Abdullah

There was a major protest on the extradition laws that Hong Kong legislation intends to pass which will make it possible to send suspects to mainland China for trial. It was eventually withdrawn after months-long of protests from the citizens. Image source: Australian Institute of International Affairs.

As at todate, Malaysia has three famous criminal fugitives who have been on the run from the law, one would be Malaysian Jho Low who is wanted for 1MDB fiasco and todate have continued to show his middle finger to all Malaysians, the other would be Indian Zakir Naik who is wanted by the Indian Government on criminal charges but enjoying celebrity status in this country and finally, we have Indira Gandhi’s ex-husband Muhammad Riduan Abdullah.

Pathmanathan Krishnan or now known as Muhammad Riduan Abdullah is an Indian Muslim convert who in 2009 had converted his 3 children without the knowledge & approval of his Hindu wife, Indira Gandhi. Then a tussle for the custody of the 3 children started with the case going to Syariah and Civil Courts.

Then on 29th January 2018, the Federal Court decided that the conversion of the 3 children is void and cancelled. And before that on 11th March 2010, the Ipoh High Court granted full custody of the 3 children to Indira Gandhi and in 2014 annuals the earlier Syariah court decision and orders Muhammad Riduan Abdullah to be arrested if he fails to return the last remaining child back to Indira Gandhi.

6 years have passed since then and the police are still unable to track Muhammad Riduan Abdullah down and get him to return the child back to Indira Gandhi.

As at todate, all these three fugitives have not been arrested and brought to face the full wrath of the law. The problem seems to identifying their locations and getting their extraction process done.

Former law minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz has questioned the authorities’ inability to repatriate M. Indira Gandhi’s ex-husband Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, saying they have previously sniffed out even the most dangerous criminals.

In an interview with Malay Mail, Nazri continued to lend his voice to the single mother of three, adding that there is “something fishy” about the authorities’ constant remark on their inability to bring the fugitive to face justice and to unite Indira with her youngest daughter Prasana Diksa.

“I still think the government should pursue and find this fugitive. I don’t believe that you cannot get him. There were even worse criminals whom we can search and find, but to say we cannot find this fugitive unless he has left the country. I just don’t believe that’s all.

“Something is fishy,” the former minister said.

He added that the authorities’ inaction on Indira Gandhi’s case would also lead the minorities to doubt the government’s willingness to protect their rights.

“I agree that the minorities feel that they are not well protected when it comes to issues like these, and for as long as this Indira Gandhi matter is not resolved.

(Source)

The question is Muhammad Riduan Abdullah still in the country or if not, in which country he is hiding now? And why it is difficult to extradite him back to Malaysia despite the outstanding court orders, special police task force and the pressure from the politicians?

Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador today said that the extradition operation to bring back M. Indira Gandhi’s daughter, Prasana Diksa, and her ex-husband Muhammad Riduan Abdullah to Malaysia will be complicated and time-consuming.

He said police are still holding on to the negotiation process via an intermediary to bring back Muhamad Riduan, who forcefully took Prasana and fled to a different country.

“We have problems and limitations to bring back Muhamad Riduan forcefully from a different country. I can’t take action outside the law. Also, he is not a hardcore criminal.

(Source)

Before we go further, let’s get the concept of extradition and why it is not legally binding on others:-

Extradition is a matter of international law, in the sense that it requires the participation of two or more countries. It also relies on principles that have emerged through international customary and treaty law.

However, extradition as a process is not governed by an international treaty regime or overseen by the United Nations. It typically involves a treaty between two states.

If one country agrees to extradite a person to another, this is done as a matter of comity rather than because of a legal obligation.

(Source)

It was the same case when Malaysia asked Australia to extradite Sirul Azhar Umar who was convicted and sentenced to death for murdering Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu back to Malaysia (let’s disregard the question on how he got into Australia in the first place). This is because extradition is not legally binding and also subject to other considerations:-

If another country makes an extradition request of Australia, the Attorney-General will issue a written notice to the Federal Circuit Court. A judge must then determine if the person subject to the request is eligible to be extradited.

In making this decision, a judge will consider:

1. Dual criminality – an act must be criminal under Australian law as well as under the law of the requesting state

2. If any extradition objections exist – Australia will refuse extradition if, for example, a person has already been punished for the offence in Australia or is unlikely to receive a fair trial

3. If extradited whether a person will face execution if extradited – Australia would not permit extradition if capital punishment was a possible outcome.

After a judge finds a person is eligible for extradition, the Attorney-General has the final say.

(Source)

Whilst extradition is not legally binding and there will be other factors that need to be considered, the relationship between the two countries and the type of crime involved must also be considered.

In the case of Zakir Naik, we already had a very good relationship with India and their judicial system known to be fair and follow the rule of law and the Indian authorities had valid reasons asking for extradition. We declined the request and yet, we get upset when others do the same thing to us.

In the case of Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, the question begged to be answered is where exactly he is in the first place? Is he truly out of this country and which country he is in now? Will the other country jeopardize the good relationship with Malaysia? Will the other country ignore that there are several court decisions that do not favour the people with extradition over their head.

We need a closer diplomatic relationship with another country so that they will not frustrate extradition orders in the future. Denying others the same will not help us in the long run as well.

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