South Africa approves extradition treaty with the UAE

South African Parliament in session./Social media
FILE: South African parliament in Cape Town, August 8, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Wessels

South Africa’s National Assembly approved an extradition treaty with the United Arab Emirates on Thursday to strengthen cooperation between the two nations in the fight against crime.

The treaty was approved by all political parties, who also agreed on a second treaty for mutual legal assistance on criminal matters.

The treaties were concluded by both countries in September, amid concerns over the magnitude of a rising trend in acts of international terrorism and organized crime.

South Africa’s Parliament Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services said the treaties were designed to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in combating crime.

The Extradition Treaty will be applied retrospectively with specific reference to the Indian Gupta family accused of collaborating with a number of senior South African government officials in looting from the state coffer, known as state capture, the committee said.

Senior members of the Gupta family reportedly have sought refuge in Dubai, the UAE since fleeing South Africa earlier this year after Parliament called for them to be investigated for allegations of state capture.

With the Extradition Treaty in place, proceedings could begin to bring the Gupta family members to South Africa to face criminal proceedings.

Democratic Alliance Member of Parliament Glynis Breytenbach said he hoped the Guptas would be held to account and that “there will be less place for them to hide.”

The South African Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services has reportedly received seven or eight requests for mutual legal assistance to other countries from the South African Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation in criminal matters regarding investigations into state capture.