With tomorrow’s meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers due to approve the EU-US Agreements on Extradition and on Mutual Legal Assistance, Amnesty International today releases its own analysis which points to serious concerns and omissions concerning the right of suspects to a fair trial in the US and calling for strict interpretation of measures relating to the death penalty.
Amnesty’s analysis (available, see link at end of page) which focuses particularly on extradition, also deplores the lack of transparency in negotiating the agreements which has made it extremely difficult to scrutinize.
“Here is an agreement essentially negotiated in secret and due to be automatically approved at tomorrow’s JHA meeting, which still contains serious flaws as far as human rights guarantees are concerned,” said Dick Oosting, Director of Amnesty International’s EU Office.
“On the issue of guarantees of fair trial, the wording of the agreements is ambiguous, omitting any mention of international human rights obligations. We can assume this ambiguity is a response to US resistance to explicit reference to international human rights standards. US-proposed military commissions, which would have the power to hand down death sentences, have added a new ingredient to this concern,” he said.
“It is conceivable, for example, that a non-US defendant accused of a “terrorist” offence, initially placed in the normal criminal justice system, could subsequently be transferred to trial by military commission, as was reportedly considered in the case of French national Zacarias Moussaoui,” said Dick Oosting.
Among the conclusions reached in the analysis:
Margin of discretion on death penalty
Among Amnesty’s recommendations regarding the agreement:
Framework for decision-making
Need for public scrutiny
For further comment/background and interviews:
Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels):
E-mail: [email protected]