Korea Poised for Extradition Treaties with Council of Europe

Korea will expand extradition treaties to cover the entire European continent, enabling authorities to gain the assistance of law enforcement authorities there in arresting people who commit crimes in Korea and flee the country. The number of countries with extradition treaties with Korea will almost triple from the present 25 to 70.

The Justice Ministry said Thursday it plans to submit an application for extradition treaties with the Council of Europe, which has 49 member countries, and that the treaty automatically becomes effective three months after submission. The 47 European members of the council as well as Israel and South Africa all have extradition treaties with each other, and Korea would become the third non-member country to join.

Korea already has extradition treaties with France, Spain, Bulgaria and South Africa. "Korea has now signed extradition treaties with most countries in the world, including in North America and Europe," said a Justice Ministry official. "This means that there are fewer places a criminal can hide overseas and it has become useless to escape."

Korea signed its first extradition treaty with Australia in 1990. The U.S. followed in 1998, China in 2000 and Japan in 2002. The extradition treaty with Europe comes three years after Korea applied for an agreement with the Council of Europe in November 2007.

Meanwhile, Korea has also signed treaties with the Council of Europe on cooperation in criminal investigations, allowing Korean law enforcement officials to get help in probing the bank accounts of suspects. The cooperative treaty is expected to help investigators track secret accounts held in Swiss banks.

englishnews@chosun.com / May 13, 2011 13:25 KST