Criminal Law

WRIGHT vs CA G.R. No. 113213 August 15, 1994 Extradition, Ex post facto law


Petitioner, an Australian Citizen, was sought by Australian authorities for indictable crimes in his country. Extradition proceedings were filed against him which ordered the deportation of petitioner. Said decision was sustained by the Court of Appeals; hence, petitioner came herein by way of review on certiorari, to set aside the order of deportation, contending that the provision of the Treaty giving retroactive effect to the extradition treaty amounts to an ex post facto law which violates Section 21 of Article VI of the Constitution.


Can extradition treaty be applied retroactively?


NO. Early commentators understood ex post facto laws to include all laws of retrospective application, whether civil or criminal. However, Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, citing Blackstone, The Federalist and other early U.S. state constitutions in Calder vs. Bull concluded that the concept was limited only to penal and criminal statutes.


As conceived under our Constitution, ex post facto laws are

1) statutes that make an act punishable as a crime when such act was not an offense when committed; 2) laws which, while not creating new offenses, aggravate the seriousness of a crime; 3) statutes which prescribes greater punishment for a crime already committed; or, 4) laws which alter the rules of evidence so as to make it substantially easier to convict a defendant.

“Applying the constitutional principle, the (Court) has held that the prohibition applies only to criminal legislation which affects the substantial rights of the accused.” This being so, there is no absolutely no merit in petitioner’s contention that the ruling of the lower court sustaining the Treaty’s retroactive application with respect to offenses committed prior to the Treaty’s coming into force and effect, violates the Constitutional prohibition against ex post facto laws. As the Court of Appeals correctly concluded, the Treaty is neither a piece of criminal legislation nor a criminal procedural statute. “It merely provides for the extradition of persons wanted for prosecution of an offense or a crime which offense or crime was already committed or consummated at the time the treaty was ratified.”

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