Extradition possible for Brazilian athletes charged by Toronto police

Brazil flagbearer Miraildes Formiga walks on stage during the closing ceremony for the 2015 Pan Am Games at Pan Am Ceremonies Venue.
Brazil flagbearer Miraildes Formiga walks on stage during the closing ceremony for the 2015 Pan Am Games at Pan Am Ceremonies Venue. Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY

This is not good news for Brazil. 

Toronto police have issued arrest warrants for two members of the Brazilian soccer team that competed in Pan Am Games earlier this year. They are wanted because of an alleged sexual assault on a 21-year old Toronto woman. The two athletes are currently outside Canada. 

Allegedly, Andrey De Silva Ventura and Lucas Domingus Piazon met the young woman at a club in downtown Toronto, went to her house, and fled after sexually assaulting her while she was asleep. This comes after an arrest warrant was issued earlier this year for a Brazilian water polo athlete in connection to another alleged sexual assault during the Pan Am Games. 

Canada has signed bilateral (two-sided) agreements with a number of other countries to allow for extradition of individuals charged with crimes. Extradition is the surrender of a person by the person’s country to another country (or to an international body) to allow for trial or sentencing of the person by the receiving state. The treaties often require the person to be officially charged with a crime. 

Canada has an extradition treaty with Brazil that was signed in January of 1995. This means if Toronto police officially charges the three Brazilian athletes with sexual assault, Canada’s Minister of Justice may request their extradition to Canada to face a trial under s. 78 of Canada’s Extradition Act. 

In most cases, the crime in question must be one that is recognized in both jurisdictions. This is called the “dual criminality” test. For instance, for Canada to hand over a Canadian to a foreign state, the offence in question must be a crime in Canada and be punishable by at least two (sometimes five) years of jail time.

Regardless of the criteria set for “dual criminality,” extradition can’t happen unless there is an agreement involved. The agreement maybe a multilateral convention signed by many countries, a bilateral agreement between two countries, or a person or class-specific agreement with another state. 

After the dual criminality test is met, there are often evidentiary requirements to be fulfilled. For example, if Canada requests extradition of the three Pan Am athletes, Brazil can ask Canada to present what evidence it has to establish these foreign nationals may have committed a crime. It may not be necessary for the evidence to be enough to find them guilty at a trial in Brazil, but it has to be enough to establish the validity of the charges pressed. 

Another principle is “protection of specialty,” which means a person who is extradited to Canada may only be prosecuted for the offences for which they were extradited, and not for other offences. In most cases, the only way an extradited person may be prosecuted in Canada for additional offences is with the foreign state’s consent. 

If the persons Canada wants are thought to be a danger to their community or a flight risk, Canada can seek a warrant for the foreign state to arrest them on an urgent basis. 

Brazil will be hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics next year and news of this nature may cause damage to its reputation in the international community. It’s important that countries take these incidents seriously and abide by any treaty or international law that applies to the situation.

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