INTER-AMERICAN CONVENTION ON SERVING CRIMINAL SENTENCES ABROADSenate Consideration of Treaty Document 104-35
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[Senate Treaty Document 104-35] [From the U.S. Government Printing Office] 104th Congress Treaty Doc. SENATE 2d Session 104-35 _______________________________________________________________________ INTER-AMERICAN CONVENTION ON SERVING CRIMINAL SENTENCES ABROAD __________ MESSAGE from THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES transmitting INTER-AMERICAN CONVENTION ON SERVING CRIMINAL SENTENCES ABROAD, DONE IN MANAGUA, NICARAGUA, ON JUNE 9, 1993, SIGNED ON BEHALF OF THE UNITED STATES AT THE OAS HEADQUARTERS IN WASHINGTON ON JANUARY 10, 1995 September 30, 1996.--Convention was read the first time and, together with the accompanying papers, referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations and ordered to be printed for the use of the Senate LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL ---------- The White House, September 30, 1996. To the Senate of the United States: With a view to receiving the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, I transmit herewith the Inter-American Convention on Serving Criminal Sentences Abroad, drawn up by the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs within the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) and composed of representatives of the Member States. The Convention was adopted and opened for signature at the twenty- third regular session of the General Assembly meeting in Managua, Nicaragua, on June 9, 1993, and signed on behalf of the United States at the OAS Headquarters in Washington on January 10, 1995. The provisions of the Convention are explained in the report of the Department of State that accompanies this message. Although the United States is already a party to the multilateral Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, which entered into force for the United States, following Senate advice and consent to ratification, on July 1, 1985, only two other OAS Member States have become parties to that Convention. Ratification of the Inter-American Convention on Serving Criminal Sentences Abroad would help fill a void by providing a mechanism for the reciprocal transfer of persons incarcerated in prisons in OAS Member States, to permit those individuals to serve their sentences in their home countries. A multilateral prisoner transfer convention for the Americas would also reduce, if not eliminate, the need for the United States to negotiate additional bilateral prisoner transfer treaties with countries in the hemisphere. I recommend that the Senate promptly give its advice and consent to the ratification of this Convention, subject to an understanding and a reservation that are described in the accompanying State Department report. William J. Clinton. LETTER OF SUBMITTAL ---------- Department of State, Washington, August 9, 1996. The President, The White House. The President: I have the honor to submit to you, with the recommendation that it be transmitted to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification, the Inter-American Convention on Serving Criminal Sentences Abroad, which was adopted and opened for signature at the twenty-third regular session of the OAS General Assembly meeting in Managua, Nicaragua, on June 9, 1993. It was signed on behalf of the United States at the OAS Headquarters in Washington on January 10, 1995. As of April 13, 1996, it had been signed by six other countries: Costa Rica, Venezuela, Canada, Panama, Mexico, and Ecuador. Two countries, Canada and Venezuela, have deposited instruments of ratification: Canada on June 4, 1995, and Venezuela on March 14, 1996. The Convention entered into force on April 13, 1996, thirty days after the deposit of the second instrument of ratification. The Department of State is hopeful that once the United States ratifies the Convention, other states in the region will take the necessary steps to become party to the Convention. The purpose of the Convention is to facilitate the transfer of foreign prisoners to their home countries by establishing procedures that can be initiated by prisoners who prefer to serve their sentences there. The means employed to achieve this purpose are basically similar to those embodied in bilateral prisoner transfer treaties that are now in force between the United States and eight other countries, and in the multilateral Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. The major advantages of concluding a multilateral convention with the OAS member States are the establishment of uniform procedures and the saving of resources that would be required to negotiate and bring into force bilateral treaties with a large number of countries in the hemisphere. The general principles of the Convention are stated in Article II, in which the parties undertake to afford each other the fullest cooperation in respect of the transfer of sentenced persons. The Article provides, subject to the conditions of Article 3, that a sentence imposed upon a national of another state party may be served by the sentenced person in the state of which that person is a national. Article III sets out the conditions for transfer. The seven conditions are: that the sentnece is final; that the sentenced person consents to the transfer, having been previously informed of the legal consequences of such a transfer; that the act for which the sentence has been imposed constitutes a crime in the State to which the prisoner is to be transferred; that the person is a national of the state to which he or she is to be transferred; that the sentence to be served is not the death penalty; that at least six months of the sentence remains to be served at the time the request for transfer is made; and that administration of the sentence is not contrary to domestic law in the state to which the person is to be transferred. Article IV obliges a Party to inform any sentenced person to whom the Convention may apply of the substance of the Convention. Provision is also made for keeping the sentenced person informed of the processing of a transfer request. Articles V and VI provide modalities for processing requests and replies and specify supporting documents that may be required in connection with transfer requests. Article V states that a request for transfer of a sentenced person from one state to another may be made by the sentencing state, the receiving state, or the sentenced person. Article V also provides that if the sentence is handed down by a state or province with criminal jurisdiction independent from that of the federal government, the approval of the authorities of that state or province shall be required for the transfer. Article VI requires that the sentencing state inform the requesting state immediately of its decision not to approve the transfer of a sentenced person, and, whenever appropriate, explain its reasons for the refusal. To ensure that the Convention may be implemented consistently with existing legislation pertaining to prisoner transfer, I recommend that the following understanding to Articles III, IV, V, and VI be included in the United States instrument of ratification: The United States of America understands that the consent requirements in Articles III, IV, V, and VI are cumulative; that is, that each transfer of a sentenced person under this Convention shall require the concurrence of the sentencing state, the receiving state, and the prisoner, and that in the circumstances specified in Article V, paragraph 3, the approval of the state or province concerned shall also be required. I also recommend the following reservation to Article V: With respect to Article V, paragraph 7, the United States of America will require that whenever one of its nationals is to be returned to the United States, the sentencing state provide the United States with the documents specified in that paragraph in the English language, as well as the language of the sentencing state. The United States undertakes to furnish a translation of those documents into the language of the requesting state in like circumstances. Article VII deals with the rights of the sentenced person. A sentenced person who is transferred under this Convention may not be arrested, tried, or sentenced again in the receiving state for the same offense upon which the sentence to be executed is based. Except as provided under Article VIII, the sentence of a sentenced person who is transferred shall be served in accordance with the laws and procedures of the receiving state, including application of any provisions relating to reduction of time of imprisonment or of alternative service of the sentence. The receiving state may not enforce a sentence so as to lengthen that sentence beyond the date on which it would expire under the terms of the sentence of the court in the sentencing state. Article VIII provides that the sentencing state shall retain full jurisdiction for the review of sentences issued by its courts, and retains the power to grant pardon, amnesty, or mercy to the sentenced person. Upon notification to the receiving state of such decision, that state must take the corresponding measures immediately. Article IX provides for the application of the Convention in special cases. Recognizing that this Convention may be applicable to persons subject to supervision or other measures under one of the state party's laws relating to youthful offenders, consent for the transfer of such persons shall be obtained from the person legally authorized to grant it. Also, by special agreement between the parties, the Convention may be applied to persons whom the competent authority in the sentencing state has pronounced unindictable (most likely, because the appropriate authorities have judged the persons mentally incompetent), so that such persons may receive treatment in the receiving state. In accordance with their laws, the parties shall agree on the type of treatment to be accorded such individuals upon transfer. For the transfer, consent must be obtained from the person legally authorized to grant it. Article X deals with the transfer of a sentenced person across the territory of a third state party to the convention. In such case, the third state shall be notified by transmittal of the decision granting the transfer by the state under whose custody the transfer is to be effected. The state of transit may or may not consent to the transit of the sentenced person through its territory. Article XI provides that each state party shall, upon signing, ratifying, or acceding to the Convention, advise the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States of the central authority it has designated to perform the functions under the Convention. For the United States, the central authority shall be the U.S. Attorney General, who also has that responsibility under the multilateral Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, as well as under the bilateral prisoner transfer treaties between the United States and other countries. Article XII provides that none of the stipulations of the Convention shall be construed to restrict other bilateral or multilateral treaties or other agreements between the parties. Articles XIII to XIX contain the final clauses of the Convention. Article XVI permits states to set forth reservations to the Convention at such time as they approve, sign, ratify, or accede to it. Article XVIII deals with denunciation of the Convention by one of the parties. Any state party may denounce the Convention at any time by registering its denunciation with the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States; denunciation shall be effective one year from the date of such denunciation. The provisions of the Convention shall remain in force, however, for the denouncing state with respect to sentenced persons transferred in accordance with the Convention, until the respective sentences have been served. Requests for transfer being processed at the time the Convention is denounced would continue to be processed and executed unless the parties agreed otherwise. It is my belief that this Convention affords substantial benefits to the United States. With the proposed understanding, the Convention is fully consistent with the provisions of Public Law 95-144, 18 U.S.C. Sec. Sec. 4110-4115, enacted by the Congress to implement treaties relating to the transfer of offenders to or from foreign countries. No new legislation will be required. The Department of Justice joins in recommending that this Convention be transmitted to the Senate at an early date for its advice and consent to ratification, subject to the understanding and reservation to Articles III, IV, V, and VI previously described. Respectfully submitted, Warren Christopher.