This site includes the postings from the Irish Aires email list. This includes a listing of Irish/Celtic events in the Houston area and other information that the Irish Aires radio program posts.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Irish Americans Oppose UK/US Extradition Treaty

To Index of Monthly Archives To November 2005 Index To receive this news via email, click HERE. No Message is necessary. ---- Political Education Committee John E. McInerney, National Chairman 218 College Station Drive Largo, Maryland 20774 News Release November 14, 2005 For Immediate Release IRISH AMERICAN ORGANIZATIONS OPPOSING NEW PROPOSED EXTRADITION TREATY BETWEEN GREAT BRITAIN AND THE UNITED STATES. The groundswell of opposition to ratification by the U. S. Senate of the new proposed extradition treaty between the United States and Great Britain will be lead by many Irish American and civil rights organizations when Senate hearings are held on Tuesday, November 15th. Prominent among the opponents of the new treaty is the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America, the oldest and largest fraternal organization of Irish Americans in the United States. The media is invited to the hearings. The details are as follows: Date and Time: 9:00 am, Tuesday, November 15, 2005 Place: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Room 419, Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, DC. The Treaty: The proposed extradition treaty between the USA and the United Kingdom was quietly signed on March 31, 2003 by US Attorney General, John Ashcroft, and the British Home Secretary in Washington. It became public knowledge a few months later when the British government released it on its web site. To get a copy of the treaty, it can be found on the following British government website: In the United States Senate, the treaty is also known as Treaty Doc. 10825. Brief Summary of the problem areas of the extradition treaty: This new proposed treaty radically changes the extradition process. The treaty is intended to combat terrorism, organized crime, money laundering and other serious crimes. However, buried deep inside this document are provisions that would deprive Americans of the rights and freedoms guaranteed to us by the Constitution and Bill of Rights, such as the right to a day in court before an impartial judge. Among the treaty’s provisions is the virtual elimination of the political offense exception that has been part of our American extradition policy since the days of Thomas Jefferson. The treaty will transfer responsibility to determine whether the extradition request is politically motivated from the federal courts to the executive branch. This undermines the separation of powers principle of our constitution. The new treaty will allow extradition even if no federal law is violated. Moreover, the treaty allows for provisional arrest and detention of our citizens for sixty (60) days upon the request by the Great Britain. The statute of limitations will be eliminated and acts not crimes when they happened can now be considered extraditable crimes and offenses. If the Senate ratifies this proposed extradition treaty with Great Britain, the Senate would seriously undermine the basic separation of powers principal of our government by taking away the impartial role of our federal judiciary to hear these cases. Citizens will loose “their day in court.” The Senate, will at Great Britain’s request, be forever altering and indirectly amending the Constitution by taking away an American citizen's right to due process of law. More detailed opposition to new proposed treaty: The treaty (1) contains a number of erosions of judicial review, (2) would threaten the due process rights of Americans, and (3) seriously impact American civil rights and civil liberties. :: Eliminates “due process of law” and seriously impacts the Constitutional Separation of Powers: The proposed extradition treaty transfers responsibility for determining whether the extradition request is politically motivated from the federal courts to the executive branch. (Article 4, #3) Under this provision, a person will not have the right of his or her “day in court” before an impartial judge. This will seriously impact the separation of powers that is at the heart of our American constitutional system of law. :: Impacts free speech: This agreement would hinder our First Amendment right of free speech. Example: If the new treaty is ratified, an American citizen who opposes British policy -- for example, an investigative journalist who wrote of current and past police abuses in Northern Ireland for an American newspaper - could face arrest and extradition without having any ability to challenge, in an American court before an impartial judge, whether the criminal charges are really a pretext for the punishment on account of race, religion, nationality or political opinion. This denial of due process and of our “day in court” is clearly foreign to our American way of life and a is serious erosion of over two centuries of freedoms every American takes for granted. :: The new treaty will allow for provisional arrest and detention of Americans for 60 days upon request by Great Britain with no formal extradition request providing supporting details. (Article 12) Under this provision, a person will not have the right of his or her “day in court” before an impartial judge. :: Elimination of the time honored political offense exception: One of the many serious fatal flaws in this new British - American extradition treaty is that it weakens, if not eliminates, the time honored extradition safeguards that the current American -- British extradition treaty includes. This proposed treaty is an unprecedented departure from two centuries of American extradition practice as far as the “political offense exception” is concerned. The current extradition treaty, still in force, provides this very important safeguard that “extradition shall not occur if the person sought establishes to the satisfaction of the competent judicial authority by a preponderance of the evidence that the request for extradition has in fact been made with a view to try or punish him on account of his race, religion, nationality, or political opinions” (Article 3(a); UK-US Supplemental Treaty, 1986) Unfortunately, this language is missing from the new proposed extradition treaty between Britain and the United States. Compare the above language with the language in Article 4 of the proposed treaty. :: It allows for extradition even if no American federal law is violated. (Article 2, #4) :: Elimination of probable cause standard: The treaty will eliminate the need for any showing of the facts (probable cause) by the United Kingdom sufficient that the person requested for extradition to Britain is really guilty of the crime he or she is charged with. The mere unsupported allegations will be sufficient for deportation to Great Britain. Never before in our nation’s history has the United States government seriously considered subjecting the liberty of American citizens to the whims of a foreign government. (Article 8, #2 (b)) :: The terms of the proposed treaty will apply retroactively for offenses allegedly committed even before the treaty’s ratification. (Article 6) Other Opposing Organizations: Besides the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), a variety of other organizations will be opposing the USA-British extradition treaty, including the Irish American Unity Conference and the ACLU. Contacts: For further information Ned McGinley National President Ancient Order of Hibernians (570) 822-0167 (570) 905-5715 (Cell) Joseph A. Roche Past National President Ancient Order of Hibernians (410) 638-2227 John E. McInerney National Chairman, Political Education Committee Ancient Order of Hibernians (202) 434-2462 (office) (301) 350-6184 (home) ---- To receive this news via email, click HERE. No Message is necessary. To November 2005 Index To Index of Monthly Archives
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