Monday, July 17, 2006

Friends Extradited - VI

An article in the FT pinpoints the real reason for the failure of the United States Senate to ratify the 2003 US-UK extradition treaty:
The prime minister’s push last week for ratification succeeded in boosting the profile of the issue in Washington and increased optimism among its supporters that the pact would be approved this year.

Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, quickly announced he would hold a hearing on Wednesday, the first public attention to the matter on Capitol Hill since a November 2005 session.

Nevertheless, groups such as the Irish American Unity Conference and the Ancient Order of Hibernians fear the treaty will enable the UK to prosecute Irish-Americans who support separatists in Northern Ireland.

Francis A. Boyle, law professor at the University of Illinois, said: “The text of this treaty is primarily designed to go after the Irish-American community” which opposes the “continued illegal British colonial presence in Northern Ireland”.

He will testify against the treaty before the foreign relations committee, along with several supporters of the pact, including officials from the US departments of state and justice.

Mr Boyle, an outspoken critic of President Bush, says the new treaty violates the rights of Irish-American citizens and fails to protect people who express support for northern Irish independence.

The existing treaty, which dates from the early 1970s and was supplemented in 1985, protected such people by including exemptions for certain categories of “political offences.” But the new treaty, Mr Boyle will tell the Senate, eliminates these protections “in all but name”.

Mr Boyle says Irish-American lobbying groups and citizens “will oppose this treaty to the death”.
Update: It seems that the ratification issue is to receive priority treatment after all.
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