When South Africa ratified an extradition treaty with the UAE in 2018, officials assumed this would fast track requests like the Gupta brothers who are accused of a number of corruption and fraud related crimes. The treaty put South African citizens at risk of extradition to a country that the United Kingdom refuses requests from due to the “real risk of human rights violations and torture” but it seems they are struggling to achieve the mutual cooperation they’d hoped for.
“The decision to extradite wanted persons from the UAE has largely played out as political rulings in recent years”, says IPEX Reform founder Radha Stirling, an expert witness in Interpol and Extradition matters. The UAE will extradite persons where there is a clear quid pro quo arrangement with the requesting country. We only have to look at the prompt extradition of several high profile parties to India following India’s illegal attack on US flagged yacht Nostromo to recover the escaping Princess Latifa, daughter of the ruler of Dubai.
British citizen Sanjay Shah’s extradition to Denmark was recently approved as part of an effort to show cooperation with Western nations following the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF’s) inclusion of the UAE on a “grey list” of financial crime monitoring.
Last year, an Australian citizen was wrongfully reported to Interpol by South Korea and although Interpol cancelled the Red Notice, the UAE agreed to extradite him anyway in the dark of night.
On the other hand, high profile and wealthy wanted persons have been protected by the UAE to the point where the country is known to be a safe haven for white collar criminals and while it appears the country is seeking to improve its image in this respect, it should come as no surprise that the Gupta brothers will not be extradited at this time.
The UAE denied the extradition, ruling that it had jurisdiction over the charges of money laundering while the other charges related to corruption and fraud were removed from the extradition request. South Africa is expected to lodge an appeal and the success of that appeal will likely come down to diplomacy rather than any legal due process.
The UAE’s arbitrary enforcement of extradition laws means the country is not a safe haven for the guilty or the innocent.