Category: Archive

New extradition treaty arousing Hib ire

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

And the group says that its fears over the treaty – which has been signed on behalf of the U.S. and British governments but awaits Senate ratification – is shared by other leading Irish American organizations including the Irish American Unity Conference.
“There was a very serious discussion about this new treaty at the recent New York State convention,” AOH National President Ned McGinley said.
“We need to be much more alert and this needs to be looked at much more closely,” McGinley said of the treaty that was signed with little or no fanfare by Attorney General John Ashcroft and British Home Secretary David Blunkett on March 31.
“The United Kingdom and the United States have a long cooperative history in
law enforcement that has only been strengthened since the tragedy of September
11th,” Attorney General Ashcroft said at that signing.
“Our two countries are united in our mutual respect for the rule of law
and love of freedom,” Ashcroft said.
And he added: “Our new extradition treaty will give us more flexibility and efficiency in ensuring that fugitive criminals can be brought to justice in the country whose laws they have violated and whose people and institutions they have
“The treaty covers criminal conduct from white collar crime and fraud,
to organized crime, money laundering, and terrorism. The new treaty we are
signing today should serve as a model to the world for successful and
efficient cooperation in bringing international fugitives to justice.”
In his remarks, Mr. Ashcroft made no specific reference to any conflict, group or country.
However, Irish American activists say that they clearly discern the Northern Ireland conflict between the treaty’s lines.
And the Hibernians have initiated an internet petition intended to reflect Irish American concern over what some lawyers argue is an instrument aimed at Irish American involvement in the North.
During the AOH gathering in Rochester, according to McGinley, three hundred delegates signed on to a petition that was forwarded to New York’s Senate members, Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The treaty must be considered by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and fears were recently expressed by Irish American attorneys that it would be presented to the committee with a view to ratification just before the Senate adjourned for the August break.
This, however, did not transpire and the month long pause before the Senate resumes is allowing Irish American groups such as the Hibernians time to clarify and highlight their concerns.
Those concerns have already been reflected by, among others, Francis Boyle, a professor of law at the University of Illinois,
According to Boyle, the proposed treaty not only does away with the concept of a political exception clause, it also removes the possibility of judicial review in extradition cases while exposing individuals, including U.S. citizens, to the threat of extradition to the United Kingdom based on “totally unfounded allegations.”
“People could be prosecuted for simply helping people involved in the situation in Northern Ireland,” Boyle said.
“The U.K. government does not need this treaty to get Real or Continuity IRA people. They already can under the current treaty as supplemented in the 1980s. This treaty is really aimed at shutting down Irish-American organizations and individuals.”
Boyle said he is fearful that the British government is using the new treaty to position itself in the event of the Good Friday agreement breaking down.
“I hope it does not, but if it does, God forbid, any Irish American who gives any support can be immediately shut down, even by totally unfounded allegations,” he said.
“I think the real target is Irish America,” Boyle said.
In New York, attorney Frank Durkan said that the language of the treaty was “so encompassing” and open to such wide interpretation, that the Department of Justice “would have no problem in getting an indictment just on the language alone.”
Durkan said that the language used could mean that simply buying a ticket for a dinner could be interpreted as giving support to terrorism.
“This is not being directed at fugitives, but people over here who have been active in campaigning for change in Northern Ireland,” he said.
“It’s so full of catchall phrases that you could even go after a lawyer or someone who wrote a column.
“The proposed treaty makes every Irish American a potential target. It is atrocious,” Durkan said.

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