Terrorist Acts – Crimes or Political Infractions? An Appraisal of Recent French Extradition Cases

01 Jan 1980

This article examines the progression of French jurisprudence on the extradition of transnational terrorists, focusing upon the issue of whether terrorist acts can be considered legally to be political offenses and hence exempt from extradition. The analysis of this issue integrates French judicial decisions into the general context of international practice – beginning with an assessment of extradition procedures and proceeding to a discussion of the special problems raised by the application of the political offense exception. A survey of international extradition decisional law reveals that the tribunals of various countries have elaborated a series of tests by which to define the concept of a political offense.

Because this study focuses upon French court decisions, the current methodology of the French courts relating to the extradition of transnational terrorists is described in some detail. Finally, the most recent French judicial decisions on the subject of the extradition of transnational terrorists are analyzed individually.