Gemma Lindfield Successfully Appears For The Government Of Rwanda

Gemma Lindfield successfully appears for the Government of Rwanda led by James Lewis QC in respect of a Supreme Court appeal by four genocide suspects whose extradition is sought by Rwanda.

On 5 November 2014, the Supreme Court handed down judgment in the case of VB and Others v. Rwanda [2014] UKSC 59. The appeal was dismissed by a 4-1 majority (Lord Toulson dissenting).

This was an interlocutory appeal by the appellants who argued that an extradition judge had the power to hear closed material, in the absence of any representative of the Government of Rwanda. This judgment confirms that it is not permissible for such a reverse closed material procedure to be adopted in extradition proceedings. The submission that extradition proceedings are special in a sense which justifies or calls for a further qualification of the principle of open justice, beyond any recognised in Al Rawi v Security Service [2011] UKSC 34 was rejected. The judge had no power to order disclosure to the CPS on the condition that further disclosureto the Rwandan Government was prohibited and was right not to do so.

It was held that the extradition judge can admit the evidence of an anonymous witness once they have made all of the relevant enquiries and satisfied that the proceedings are nevertheless fair. In this regard the judge had no power to make a witness anonymity order under s.87 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.

The judgment provides an interesting commentary on the relationship between extradition proceedings and any subsequent immigration or human rights claim.

The judgment can be found here.

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