The Association of Southeast Asian Nations Senior Law Officials Meeting (ASLOM) Working Group (WG) on the ASEAN Extradition Treaty (AET) held its second meeting on 10 to 11 October 2022 at Hilton Manila Hotel, Pasay City.
The AET is ASEAN’s response to the growing need for international legal cooperation within the region, in light of the increase in cross-border crime and human mobility. During the 32nd ASEAN Summit held on 28 April 2018 in Singapore, the ASEAN Leaders noted that work could commence on an ASEAN Extradition Treaty (AET). The AET WG was established during the 19th ASLOM held on 6 to 7 October 2020, with the mandate to develop the ASEAN Extradition Treaty, whereby a State Party is bound to surrender a requested person in relation to criminal activity committed in the other State Party.
The Meeting followed some of the progress made in the first meeting of the AET WG chaired by Singapore last April 2021.
Chief State Counsel George O. Ortha II, the Philippine ASLOM Leader and 21st ASLOM Head of Delegation for the Philippines, in his opening remarks, welcomed the delegates, comprised of senior law officials from the ASEAN Member States. The Philippine delegation was composed of State Counsels from the Legal Staff of the Department of Justice. The meeting was chaired by Assistant Chief State Counsel Mildred Bernadette B. Alvor, while the Philippine delegation was headed by Senior State Counsel Grace L. Estrada.
The AET WG tracked the text of the Model ASEAN Extradition Treaty as a starting point of discussions and considerable progress was reached. Some notable developments include a consensus on the approach to be used in the determination of an extraditable offense.
At the close of the session, a work plan was finalized for the succeeding meetings of the AET WG, which are expected to include three (3) rounds of negotiations before the 22nd ASLOM to be held in Myanmar tentatively in October 2023.
An extradition treaty allows the surrender of a fugitive found in a country to a requesting country where he or she is being prosecuted or needs to serve sentence. In an extradition treaty, the DOJ is the Central Authority for the Philippines. As such, the DOJ, through the Office of the Chief State Counsel (Legal Staff), is responsible for making or processing extradition requests.