May 7, 1986
By Juliana Geran
THE U.S.-U.K. EXTRADITION ' :ATY-. NEW WEAPON AGAINST
60 days the period, following the provisional arrest of a
fugitive, that a state has to submit evidence in support of its
extradition request. Article 4 states that the Treaty applies to
any offense committed before or after the Treaty takes effect. This
retroactive provision has been standard in U.S. treaties since at
Some members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led by
Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) are attempting to modify the proposed
Treaty in a way that seriously would weaken its antiterrorist
value. A Biden Amendment would exempt from extradition those
accused of crimes against noncivilians including policemen a nd
off-duty soldiers. The reasoning seems to be that attacks against
noncivilians are Rrima facie a political act. Most experts question
this logic. If passed, the Biden Amendment-would allow terrorists
to find sanctuary in the U.S., even if they shot a B ritish
The political status of Northern Ireland is not at issue with
the new Treaty, terrorism is. CIA Director William Casey recently
stated that "the terrorist's victims may have no political
identity, or they may be political symbols .... one defining
characteristic of the terrorist is the choice of method: the
terrorist chooses violence as the instrument of first resort."
Some critics understandably are concerned that the Treaty will
set a precedent, reversing longstanding U.S. policy of ref using to
be involved in overseas politically motivated civil strife. Would
the U.S., for example, extradite dissidents in*the future to
Nicaragua or Poland, where the critical absence of any recourse to
democratic channels of protest makes armed resistanc e a last
resort? In response to this concern, State Department General
Counsel Abraham Sofaer has written to Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN)
and Claiborne Pell (D-RI) promising that the U.S. will sign
extradition treaties only with "genuine democracies."
The U.S. was wise to negotiate and sign the Treaty. Now nearly
a' year has passed. It is time for the U.S. and U.K. to add the
Treaty to their arsenal against terrorism.
Juliana Geran Pilon, Ph.D. Senior Policy Analyst
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