What Happens When Prisoners Escape to Another Country?

What happens when prisoners escape to another country? Learn about international law, extradition treaties & fleeing prison.

What Happens When Prisoners Escape to Another Country?
Photo by Daria Rudyk / Unsplash

Imagine being imprisoned in a foreign country, and then miraculously escaping to another, finding freedom from the confines of your cell.

This is the dramatic reality for some individuals, as depicted in shows like National Geographic's 'Locked Up Abroad.' But what happens once they reach the new country's territory?

And why aren't they immediately sent back to face justice in the country they fled?

Let's delve into the complex realm of international law and the reasons behind these intriguing scenarios.

The Complexity of International Law

Every country operates under its own legal system and governmental authority.

There's no overarching global law that universally binds nations to extradite escaped prisoners.

Once someone manages to cross the border and land on the soil of a new country, they fall under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of that particular nation.

Extradition Treaties

Extradition treaties are formal agreements between countries that specify the legal processes for surrendering individuals accused or convicted of crimes.

However, not all countries have such treaties in place, and those that do might have varying conditions for extradition.

Even within treaties, there may be exceptions based on the nature of the crime, the citizenship of the individual, or the possibility of facing inhumane treatment or the death penalty back in the requesting country.

Case in Point: Billy Hayes and 'Midnight Express'

In the case of Billy Hayes, whose gripping story inspired the movie 'Midnight Express,' his escape from a Turkish prison and arrival in Greece allowed him to find refuge.

Greece, at that time, had its own laws and considerations regarding the extradition of foreign escapees.

This highlights how the unique legal landscape of each country can impact the fate of escaped prisoners.

The Broadcasting Conundrum

The perplexing aspect of escaped prisoners sharing their stories on television while residing in a new country stems from the lack of immediate international legal repercussions.

While their original country may broadcast their fugitive status, the actual process of extradition depends on a multitude of factors and often involves lengthy legal proceedings.

In essence, the lack of immediate extradition of escaped prisoners from one country to another lies within the complexities of international law, the absence of universal treaties, and the distinctive legal structures of each nation.

As such, the fate of escaped prisoners remains subject to the intricate web of international relations.

In Conclusion

The circumstances surrounding escaping imprisonment in one country and finding refuge in another are a captivating intersection of law, politics, and human drama.

Each case serves as a reminder of the intricate nature of our global legal framework and the varying considerations that come into play when individuals navigate international borders in search of freedom.