Prosecuting political dissent: Discussing the relevance of the political offence exception in EU extradition law in light of the Catalan independence crisis

In New Journal of European Criminal Law


Most extradition treaties contain a political offence exception clause, which precludes extradition from taking place when the concerned crime is considered to be political by the requested state. This clause has been abolished within the European Union (EU), where mutual trust prevails among Member States, allegedly rendering such safeguards obsolete. This article, however, seeks to question the commonly agreed outdatedness of the political offence exception clause within the EU framework, looking at the context of its abolition, the role Spanish authorities played in it at the time of its abolition, the way they have handled the Catalan crisis since 2017 and the exportation of the latter at the EU level. It argues that the situation in which Catalan exiles are today casts doubt over the obsolescence of safeguards such as the political offence exception and further contends that human and political rights safeguard mechanisms should not be perceived as hampering mutual trust and judicial cooperation in criminal matters in the EU.