Indian media has reported a Dubai court has ruled to extradite British national Christian Michel to India over charges of bribery and corruption. Last July Indian officials traveled to the UAE to request Michel be handed over into Indian custody, in an apparent attempt to override international protocols on extradition. Perhaps in response to this request, the UAE undertook extradition proceedings.
Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, and a leading expert on the UAE legal system expressed concerns that Michel may not be receiving due process, and that his extradition is a political, not legal move. “On March 4th, 2018, India and the UAE jointly executed an illegal raid of an American civilian vessel in international waters, and the Indian Coast Guard participated in the abduction of Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum, the daughter of the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, as well as several other foreign nationals. This joint operation was approved by Indian Prime Minister Modi after a personal telephone call with Sheikh Mohammed.” Stirling explains, “Because of India’s participation in this illegal action, they have faced considerable international criticism, including an official enquiry by the United Nations. In short, the UAE owes India a favour; it appears that expedited extradition may well be a gesture of reciprocal appreciation by the UAE for India’s role in the abduction and return of Princess Latifa back to the Emirates. For example, India had requested the extradition of Yasin Mansoor Mohammad Farooq in 2017; but he was only arrested by UAE authorities one day after the raid on Latifa’s yacht, and deported to India 3 days later.
Criminal investigations and extradition proceedings must never be politicised, and certainly must not become chips in an exchange of favours between governments. We cannot speak to the details of the allegations against Christian; our concern in this matter is simply that due process be followed, and that he is guaranteed a fair trial, something that has proved nearly impossible to achieve in the Emirates”
Stirling pointed out that, while diplomatic give-and-take plays a role in relations between states, India is misusing the UAE’s debt of gratitude. “There are serious human rights violations and civil rights abuses committed in the UAE against Indian nationals on a regular basis; from mistreatment of workers to unjust prosecutions, such as the case of Johnson George, who has been detained for 8 months over a case in which he has no involvement whatsoever. Rather than using their advantage to expedite the extradition of someone like Christian Michel, the Indian government would do better by intervening in such cases wherein their own citizens are being victimised by the UAE legal system”.
Stirling continues, “When standard legal procedures are not adhered to, and extradition proceedings are either overridden or unfairly expedited, this is a break down in the rule of law, and citizens can no longer feel confident that they will be dealt with justly in the event of a criminal complaint. In light of this emerging relationship between India and the UAE, Indians who have been unfairly reported to Interpol are growing concerned about the possibility of their own extradition to the Emirates.
This creates an incentive to simply evade the authorities, as appears to be the case at the moment with Mr. Michel, who has apparently gone missing since the extradition order was handed down. The rules and protocols in these matters exist for a reason; when governments choose to ignore them, and instead diplomatically barter, it can lead to further lawlessness.”
If Christian Michel is apprehended in the UAE, he will likely launch an appeal to the Supreme Court his lawyer told Detained in Dubai.