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The US and EU to sign new extradition treaty

EuropeanVoice.com reports:

The EU and the US will next week (28 October) sign a treaty intended to simplify and accelerate the extradition of those suspected of serious crimes.

Human-rights defenders have expressed concerns, though, that clauses in the treaty could allow the US to execute extraditees and continue the practice of extraordinary rendition, the transfer of suspected terrorists without the usual legal formalities.

The treaty, which will come into force next year, broadens the definition of serious crime to overcome problems with old bilateral treaties, which, for example, listed rape as an extraditable crime only if it involved a man and a woman.

It also grants greater access to information in investigations of serious crime, including access to bank accounts.

However, human-rights groups fear a murder suspect extradited to the US could face the death penalty since the treaty simply states that member states “may” seek assurances that the suspect would not be executed if found guilty.

Rendition negotiations

A provision that allows US planes to touch down in the EU en route to the US has stoked fears that extraordinary rendition could be legitimised.

However, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, a Spanish socialist MEP and chairman of the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee, said his committee had been “heavily involved” in negotiations and secured guarantees on that point.

He and nine other members of the committee will attend the ceremony together with Beatrice Ask, Sweden’s justice minister, representing the EU presidency, and Jacques Barrot, the European justice commissioner.

The MEPs will meet representatives from the US Congress to discuss data protection issues, including a new deal on access to details of SWIFT banking transactions in Europe, and to press it to drop a plan to introduce a $10 fee for tourists.

(HT: Georgetown Security Law Brief)

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Anthony Clark Arend is Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Commentary and analysis at the intersection of international law and politics.