House Chairperson, the extradition treaty and the agreement concerning mutual legal assistance in criminal matters between South Africa and Iran were both tabled in terms of section 231(2) of the Constitution, Act 108 of 1996, because these are actually two separate legal instruments that both require ratification by Parliament.
In terms of the extradition treaty, a state can request the extradition of a fugitive only if the offence in question is in both countries and is punishable by a sentence of at least one year's imprisonment. The state from which the extradition is requested can refuse such a request. If a person is a national of the requested state, then proceedings must be instituted within the requested state.
The state from which the extradition is requested may also refuse extradition if the matter involved a political or a military offence or if the potential sentence for the offence in question is substantively different in both states, and also if the requesting state fails to provide assurance that the person in question will not be subjected to cruel, inhumane or degrading punishment, torture or detention without trial.
The treaty has no specific provision dealing with extradition in cases where the death penalty can be imposed. However, according to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, this is covered by the provision regarding cruel, inhumane and degrading punishment, as the Constitutional Court has stated that the death penalty amounts to cruel, inhumane or degrading punishment.
South Africa would therefore refuse extradition in cases where a person would be sentenced to death in Iran, where the death penalty is still in operation, unless the government of Iran assures South Africa in writing that the death penalty will not be imposed or, if it is imposed, would not be carried out.
With regard to an agreement concerning legal assistance, the agreement provides for surrender to legal evidence and forfeited properties linked to the commission of the crime in question to be kept by the requesting state until the end of the trial, when it will be decided by both states whether or not such properties or evidence will be returned.
South Africa has a foreign mission in Iran and the committee was informed that there have been renewed attempts to strengthen diplomatic ties between South Africa and Iran, and that South Africa therefore has an obligation to honour the treaty and agreement signed with Iran. There were also no limitations from bodies like the African Union and the Southern African Development Community, SADC, that prevented South Africa from dealing with Iran.
The committee proposes that the House should adopt the extradition treaty and the agreement.
Question put: That the Report of the Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Development on Agreement between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters be adopted.
Declaration of vote: