Minister for Home Affairs and Justice v Adamas

The High Court has unanimously allowed an appeal against the decision of the Full Federal Court, in which the FCAFC upheld the trial judge’s order to quash the Minister’s decision to extradite the first respondent, Adamas, to Indonesia. The Central Jakarta District Court tried and convicted Adamas in absentia of corruption relating to his time as a bank official, and sentenced him to life imprisonment. The trial judge found that on returning to Indonesia, Adamas would not be re-tried or be able fully appeal his conviction. Section 22 of the Extradition Act 1988 (Cth) lays out the relevant considerations for the Minister, one of which relates to whether an ‘extradition objection’ can be raised; in this instance, whether the extradition would be unjust, oppressive or incompatible with humanitarian considerations (art 9(2)(b) of the extradition treaty between Australia and Indonesia). A majority of the FCAFC held that the Minister failed to take into account whether the in absentia trial and conviction would be unjust by Australian standards, which he was required to do in order to be satisfied, taking into account the nature of the offence and Indonesia’s interests, that Adama’s surrender would not breach the art 9(2)(b) consideration.

The High Court unanimously held that the Minister had correctly interpreted art 9(2)(b): interpreting that section in good faith and in accordance with the ordinary meaning of the words in light of the object and purpose of the treaty, the expression ‘unjust, oppressive or incompatible with humanitarian considerations’ unambiguously gives a single broad evaluative standard to be applied by each Contracting State. The trial standards within each Contracting State are relevant to applying the article, but they are not determinative of its application. Consequently, the Minister was not obliged to apply Australian standards in assessing whether extraditing Adamas would breach art 9(2)(b).

High Court Judgment [2013] HCA 59 18 December 2013
Result Appeal allowed
High Court Documents Minister v Adamas
Full Court Hearing [2013] HCATrans 297  28 November 2013
Special Leave Hearing [2013] HCATrans 220 12 September 2013
Appeal from FCAFC [2013] FCAFC 14 15 February 2013
Trial Judgment, FCA
[2012] FCA 227 15 March 2012