JG - LETTER OF THE DAY - Extradition treaty should be reviewed
published: Tuesday September 6, 2005
LETTER OF THE DAY - Extradition treaty should be reviewed published: Tuesday
THE EDITOR, Sir:
ONE AREA of the administration of justice which needs immediate review and reform is the extradition process. The aspect of this process which requires the most urgent attention is the law, treaty, practice and policy of the Government relating to requests for extradition by the United States of America (U.S.A.) of Jamaican citizens or other persons in the Jamaican jurisdiction who have been designated "Drug Kingpins" by the President of that country.
The tagging of anyone with this offensive designation by the President without due process and the punitive consequences that flow therefrom constitute a flagrant and reckless act of executive terrorism. Such conduct offends against the basic principles of justice and the rule of law in any civilised society. If this is good enough for justice in America for Americans, it ought not, as a matter of national policy, be good enough for Jamaica.
It is my respectful opinion that pending a renegotiation of the U.S.A. - Jamaica Extradition Treaty and a review of the Extradition Act, the Government of Jamaica, if it can bring itself to realise that we are a sovereign and independent people, should issue a policy statement that it will not extradite to the U.S.A., any Jamaican citizen or other person within its jurisdiction who has been designated a drug kingpin. The Minister with responsibility for the Extradition Act should act accordingly.
It is not suggested that persons not extradited should necessarily be freed. If this country has jurisdiction over the offences alleged and there is sufficient evidence, the cases should be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions for decision as to prosecution.
TRIED IN JAMAICA
Indeed, it is submitted that even as the law now stands, some of these cases could be tried in Jamaica. In this regard section 7 of the Extradition Act which deals with "General restrictions on extradition" and Article VII of the U.S.A. - Jamaica Extradition Treaty which states, among other things, that "Neither Contracting Party shall be bound to deliver up its own nationals ..." are relevant. While Jamaica should be resolute in upholding justice it should also beware of becoming a haven for miscreants.
From as long ago as 1995 then Government Senator Frederick Hamaty, speaking in the Senate, called for a review of the Extradition Act and the U.S.A. - Jamaica Extradition Treaty.
Since then nothing has been done in this regard. In this, as in the matter of legal reform generally, a state of inertia bordering on moribundity has prevailed. Action is needed.
It is not that we love America less. It is just that we love justice more.
I am, etc.,