Doctrine of Specialty Law and Legal Definition

Doctrine of Specialty is a principle of International law that is included in most extradition treaties, whereby a person who is extradited to a country to stand trial for certain criminal offenses may be tried only for those offenses and not for any other pre-extradition offenses. Once the asylum state extradites an individual to the requesting state under the terms of an extradition treaty, that person can be prosecuted only for crimes specified in the extradition request. This doctrine allows a nation to require the requesting nation to limit prosecution to declared offenses. US courts have been divided on allowing standing to assert the doctrine when the other nation has not explicitly or implicitly protested certain charges.

A person who has been brought within the jurisdiction of the court by virtue of proceedings under an extradition treaty, can only be tried for one of the offences described in that treaty, and for the offence with which he is charged in the proceedings for his extradition, until a reasonable time and opportunity have been given him, after his release or trial upon such charge, to return to the country from whose asylum he had been forcibly taken under those proceedings. [United States v. Rauscher, 119 U.S. 407 (U.S. 1886)]