The U.S. Senate may soon be asked to consider an extradition treaty between the United States and the United Kingdom that threatens the due process rights of Americans.
This treaty -- negotiated by Attorney General John Ashcroft and his counterpart British Home Secretary David Blunkett - seriously erodes the judicial review for individuals sought by the United Kingdom and allows the administration to approve these requests unilaterally.
An individual in the United States could therefore face arrest and extradition without having any ability to challenge in an American court whether the criminal charges are really a pretext for the punishment on account of race, religion, nationality or political opinion.
This erosion of judicial review is unnecessary to ensure that suspected terrorists face extradition, and would unfairly erode due process protections in America.
Take Action! Urge your Senators to Oppose this New Treaty.
The treaty erodes judicial review from the approval of extradition requests.
The new treaty eliminates the American judiciary's role in determining whether an extradition request should be denied on the basis of the political offense exception. This centuries-old exception protects Americans and others from political, religious or other impermissible persecution, and prevents the extradition of individuals who would become political prisoners in their home countries.
This treaty has far-reaching implications.
The treaty would eliminate the statute of limitations as a defense against extradition, allow for ""provisional arrests"" and detentions, which can last for as long as sixty days with no formal extradition request providing supporting details -- and for the treaty to be applied retroactively.
This agreement would hinder free speech.
If the new treaty were ratified, an American who opposed British policy -- for example, an investigative journalist who wrote of police abuses in Northern Ireland for an Irish American newspaper -- could face arrest and extradition without having any ability to challenge, in an American court, whether the criminal charges are really a pretext for the punishment on account of race, religion, nationality or political opinion.