Extradition Bill will ensure fugitives can be brought home to face justice while respecting due process – AG

Attorney General Anil Nandlall

…Opposition says legislation necessary, but concerned about misuse

The Fugitive Offenders (Amendment) Bill that has been passed in the National Assembly will ensure fugitives hiding from the long arms of the law can be brought home to face justice, while at the same time respecting due process. This is according to Attorney General Anil Nandlall, who presented the Bill.

Debate on the Fugitive Offenders (Amendment) Bill 2024 got underway during Monday’s sitting of the National Assembly as both sides argued for and warned against the Bill. The bill was presented by Attorney General Anil Nandlall, who noted the importance of being able to ensure fugitives can be extradited to face justice in Guyana.

The attorney general made it clear that the bill contains safeguards against being misused since it allows the local judiciary to satisfy itself that there is evidence for the extradition request. Additionally, the Minister of Home Affairs has the final say on whether to allow the extradition request to proceed, after a committal order is transmitted from the Magistrate.

“The process of extradition, begins with an inquiry made and put into writing, to the requesting state, whether or not Guyana has extradition arrangements with that particular country. Once that question is answered in the affirmative, a request is made to the prescribed authority. In our case the Minister of Home Affairs, who upon receipt of an extradition request, determines whether or not he will issue what is called an authority to proceed.”

“That is, an instruction directed to the magistrate of the particular district, whether to trigger the extradition or preliminary hearing. Of course, the Minister of Home Affairs will first have to satisfy himself that the request is in compliance with our Fugitive Offenders’ Act. And whatever bilateral treaty we may have… after receiving legal advice,” Nandlall said.


For her part, Opposition Member of Parliament Geeta Chandan-Edmonds acknowledged the necessity of such a law. In the same vein, however, she also urged that the law not be misused to go after critics of the government and suppress free speech.

“We must accept that we, in an integrated world and given Guyana’s new status in the grand scheme of things, this type of legislation is very necessary. So, kudos to you, Mr Attorney General, it’s the fifth or sixth time I’m commending you in succession. But sir one wonders whether such legal mechanisms will be misused.”

Responding to these concerns, Home Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn urged the opposition to bring amendments if they have genuine concerns regarding the bill. Benn also noted that already, the government is already considering seeking mutual legal assistance for certain criminally offensive statements made by persons outside of Guyana’s jurisdiction.

“I want to remind ourselves that if you think you can write libelous things or say slanderous things or propose insurrection, like we talked about some persons who are perhaps in the safe areas of the United States who said, Georgetown must burn down if the PPP ain’t come out.”

“I’m saying, for some of those statements which we have on record, we are considering mutual legal assistance on those matters,” Benn warned. Despite the parliamentary opposition’s initial objections, however, the Bill was eventually passed without any votes against it.

The Fugitive Offenders (Amendment) Bill 2024 seeks to alter section 24 of the Fugitive Offenders Act, Chapter 10:04. Among the changes the bill seeks to bring about, is to expand the types of documents admissible in evidence. Clause Two of the bill amends subsection (1) of the principal act by inserting a new paragraph (d) that will provide a record of evidence of the case against the person.

The bill defines a record of evidence as documents, statements, or other evidence that describe the identity and probable location of the person sought, including photographs and fingerprints; a statement of the facts of the case, including, if possible, the time and location of the offense, or a statement of the provisions of the law describing the essential elements and designation of the offense for which extradition is requested.