I saw a video about the protests taking place in Hong Kong just a few minutes ago and it took my attention for a while, so a question about a slightly different scenario came in my mind and I'd like to ask for curiosity.

If an individual holds two citizenships, let's say A and B, and commits a serious crime in country A and manages to escape in country B in time, can country B extradite its own citizen to a foreign jurisdiction in which they happens to be also a citizen of? Can a country extradite a citizen of theirs in a foreign country, regardless of the status of the individual in the jurisdiction he did commit the crime in?

  • There are 195 answers, because each country has its own laws about extradition. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. – user6726 Aug 29 '19 at 18:26
  • But I'm not talking about the common case in which a citizen may escape to another country which is not theirs, because in that case I know that it depends upon the pair of countries involved, so many scenarios can take place. I'm talking about a more peculiar case in which a person escapes in their own country, regardless of him being a citizen or simply a resident of that country. – us er Aug 29 '19 at 18:33
  • I've edited my comment. – us er Aug 29 '19 at 18:36
  • And even if there are extradition agreements, do they apply for citizens of the country which is required to extradite? Because if this is the case then a country can make an excuse for any non-citizen he dislikes and request extradition from the country whose the citizen is a citizen of. – us er Aug 29 '19 at 18:45
  • @user6726 Did you count 50 US states which often have quite different laws? – gnasher729 Aug 29 '19 at 20:14

Because of the international principle of sovereignty, there is no external force requiring extradition from one country to another. In Austria, Brazil, People’s Republic of China, Republic of China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Russia, Switzerland and Syria, you cannot legally be extradited if you are a citizen of that country, since the extradition laws of those countries preclude extraditing citizens.

Whether or not an extradition request will be honored in the remaining cases depends on the laws of that country, especially whether the law allows vs. requires (vs. forbids) extradition. The primary consideration is whether a treaty exists between the sending and receiving countries: see this article

Extradition treaties are in the nature of a contract and by operation of international law, “[a] state party to an extradition treaty is obligated to comply with the request of another state party to that treaty to arrest and deliver a person duly shown to be sought by that state (a) for trial on a charge of having committed a crime covered by the treaty within the jurisdiction of the requesting state, or (b) for punishment after conviction of such a crime and flight from that state, provided that none of the grounds for refusal to extradite set forth in [the treaty] is applicable.

18 USC 3181 mandated that you may not be extradited from the US unless the receiving country has an extradition treaty with the US. In a limited set of contexts (crimes of violence against US nationals committed by persons who are not US citizens, nationals or LPRs), in lieu of a treaty and "in the exercise of comity", a person might also be extradited. This section then says when extradition may be considered, and at what point in the proceeding, the extradition shall be performed. The law of extradition in Norway is different (much more complex rules). Apart from the prohibition of extraditing Norwegian nationals (Norsk statsborger), there is a requirement that the crime be punishable in Norway by more than a year in prison; there is a prohibition against extraditing if there is a "conflict with basic humanitarian considerations, especially because of their age, health or other personal circumstances" (current law, art. 7)... and so on. Bolivia, on the other hand, allows extradition of its own nationals to the US, pursuant to their treaty with the US, for a specific list of crimes:

murder; voluntary manslaughter; kidnaping; aggravated assault; rape; sexual offenses involving children; armed robbery; offenses related to the illicit traffic in controlled substances; serious offenses related to terrorism; serious offenses related to organized criminal activity; fraud against the government or involving multiple victims; counterfeiting of currency; offenses related to the traffic in historical or archeological items; offenses punishable in both States by deprivation of liberty for a maximum period of at least ten years

In principle, any nation could in their extradition treaty exclude extradition of certain dual nationals, if they had a political motivation to do so.

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  • (+1) Note that in the EU countries listed in your first paragraph there is now a quasi-extradition procedure through the European Arrest Warrant breaking with their long-standing tradition of not extraditing their own citizens. – Relaxed Aug 29 '19 at 23:18

It depends on the law in country B

Some countries allow extradition of their citizens and some don’t.

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Extradition is mostly dependent on the relationship and existing treaty status between Country A and Country B or the local law of Country B. I can say for sure that some extradition treaties don't differentiate between citizens, non-citizens and dual citizens, but I can't say categorically that none do. It's not unheard of for extradition law to make this differentiation - for example, the United States allows for extradition of some persons accused of violence against a US citizen in another country, even without an exiting agreement USC 3181(b), but only if that person is not a citizen, national, or permanent resident of the United States.

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  • Wait, so if a person who causes damage to a US citizen, has never been in the US, nor has they any relationship with the US or even speak the English language, can be extradited to the US instead of being judged by the local law??? That's weird. – us er Oct 9 '19 at 23:07
  • @user You're reading it backwards - the law allows the US to extradite a person to another country if they committed violence in that country against a US national. – IllusiveBrian Oct 10 '19 at 0:16
  • Ok, I may have read it wrong, but the funny coincidence is that I have found an article mentioning the misunderstanding I had in the first place. – us er Oct 10 '19 at 0:48

As an example you will be extradited from Germany to the USA if:

  1. You are accused of something that you would be prosecuted for in Germany if the roles of the countries were reversed.

  2. There is enough evidence that you would be prosecuted in Germany if the roles of the countries were reserved.

  3. There is the guarantee of a fair trial and no punishment that wouldn’t be acceptable in Germany (for example Germany would ask for a guarantee that there is no death penalty).

  4. It’s not a trivial crime where the extradition alone would be worse than the punishment (so it is highly unlikely that you would be extradited for shoplifting).

In addition, you might not get extradited if Germany wants to put you into jail themselves. But your nationality, or where you are resident, doesn’t matter one bit.

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  • Ok, but regarding point 3, it doesn't make any sense that a country asks to the counterparts which is requiring the extradition to not carry out a certain kind of punishment for its non presence in its own jurisdiction, because the crime has been committed in that particular jurisdiction and once the extradition is implemented, then the person should be tried with the laws of U.S jurisdiction in this case. Otherwise any person committing a crime in the US that is worthy of death penalty can simply escape in Canada and receive a lesser punishment if extradited, in this case. – us er Aug 30 '19 at 11:32
  • @gnasher very bad sample. Germany will never extradite one if its citizens to the US for constitutional reasons. The US will not extradite it's citizen to Germany because Germany does not recipicate. – Mark Johnson Aug 30 '19 at 12:33
  • @gnasher729 if you replace Germany with United Kindom the sample would be correct, I would revert my downvote. Add a statement that some countries don't extradite there own citizens, I would then upvote it. – Mark Johnson Aug 30 '19 at 12:52
  • What if a U.S citizen manages to escape in Germany? – us er Sep 9 '19 at 19:31

Yes, they can, there is nothing preventing countries from extraditing their own citizens. And they are never forced or supposed to extradite anybody, it's a matter of national sovereignty.

Many countries have established a tradition of never extraditing their own citizens but that's entirely up to them, not something rooted in international law. Many countries also have bilateral extradition treaties (or even easier mechanisms like the European arrest warrant) but that's again up to them on a case-by-case basis.

I am also not aware of any country making an exception for dual nationals (but I obviously don't know the exact rules and practices of most of them). Those I know either do extradite their own citizens, in some or all situations, or they don't, independently of any other citizenship they may hold.

Most (all?) countries will also extradite third-country citizens (i.e. when staying in a country that would extradite you, you can be extradited to many places, not only to your country of origin). Here again, citizenship (beyond that of the extraditing country) doesn't generally make a difference.

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  • The context of the question assumes also whether they are forced to. – us er Aug 29 '19 at 21:22
  • Ok, but if the person commits a crime and then goes into a country that action is not a crime in, is they.supposed to be extradited or not or it depends? – us er Aug 29 '19 at 21:29
  • Because I see inconsistencies, for example if the US seeks extradition from a third-world country then it would most likely be delivered, even if it is death penalty, but if it is the other way around then Human Rights issue hits in. Would it work likewise if someone facing death penalty into U.S law goes into an other western country which doesn't hold this punishment? – us er Aug 29 '19 at 21:51
  • @user33954 Not sure I follow your questions and you seem to be asking new ones all the time. There are inconsistencies precisely because it's up to each country. There is absolutely no reason it should be consistent, countries are not forced to extradite anybody and citizenship other than that of the country where the person is generally do not matter in any way. That's the gist of my answer. – Relaxed Aug 29 '19 at 22:27
  • Now, regarding the death penalty, knowing that the most precise answer is always "it depends", yes, there are (mostly Western European) countries that won't extradite someone to the US if they face the death penalty there. It has happened that a prosecutor would promise not to seek the death penalty in a particular case to facilitate extradition (i.e. it's not a blanket measure against all extraditions to the US as a protest for the mere existence of the death penalty). – Relaxed Aug 29 '19 at 22:31

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