TREATY WITH ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES ON MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE IN CRIMINAL MATTERSSenate Consideration of Treaty Document 105-44
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[Senate Treaty Document 105-44] [From the U.S. Government Publishing Office] 105th Congress Treaty Doc. SENATE 2d Session 105-44 _______________________________________________________________________ TREATY WITH ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES ON MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE IN CRIMINAL MATTERS __________ MESSAGE from THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES transmitting TREATY BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND THE GOVERNMENT OF SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES ON MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE IN CRIMINAL MATTERS, AND A RELATED PROTOCOL, SIGNED AT KINGSTOWN ON JANUARY 8, 1998 May 13, 1998.--Treaty 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, May 13, 1998. 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 Treaty Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, and a related Protocol, signed at Kingstown on January 8, 1998. I transmit also, for the information of the Senate, the report of the Department of State with respect to the Treaty. The Treaty is one of a series of modern mutual legal assistance treaties being negotiated by the United States in order to counter criminal activities more effectively. The Treaty should be an effective tool to assist in the prosecution of a wide variety of crimes, including drug trafficking offenses. The Treaty is self-executing. The Treaty provides for a broad range of cooperation in criminal matters. Mutual assistance available under the Treaty includes: taking of testimony or statements of persons; providing documents, records, and articles of evidence; serving documents; locating or identifying persons; transferring persons in custody for testimony or other purposes; executing requests for searches and seizures; assisting in proceedings related to immobilization and forfeiture of assets; restitution; collection of fines; and any other form of assistance not prohibited by the laws of the Requested State. I recommend that the Senate give early and favorable consideration to the Treaty and related Protocol, and give its advice and consent to ratification. William J. Clinton. LETTER OF SUBMITTAL ---------- Department of State, Washington, April 29, 1998. The President, The White House. The President: I have the honor to submit to you the Treaty Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (``the Treaty'') and a related Protocol, signed at Kingstown on January 8, 1998. I recommend that the Treaty be transmitted to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification. The Treaty covers mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. In recent years, similar bilateral treaties have entered into force with a number of other countries. The Treaty with the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines contains all essential provisions sought by the United States. It will enhance our ability to investigate and prosecute a variety of offsenses, including drug-trafficking offenses of particular interest to the United States law enforcement community. The Treaty is designed to be self- executing and will not require new legislation. Article 1 sets forth a non-exclusive list of the major types of assistance to be provided under the Treaty, including taking the testimony or statements of persons; providing documents, records and articles of evidence; serving documents; locating or identifying persons; transferring persons in custody for testimony or other purposes; executing requests for searches and seizures; assisting in proceedings related to immobilization and forfeiture of assets; restitution; collection of fines; and any other form of assistance not prohibited by the laws of the Requested State. The scope of the Treaty includes not only criminal offsenses, but also proceedings related to criminal matters, which may be civil or administrative in nature. Article 1(3) states that, except as provided in the Treaty, assistance shall be provided without regard to whether the conduct involved would constitute an offense under the laws of the Requested State. This Treaty, like the mutual legal assistance treaties with Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Kitts and Nevis, includes a side instrument which confirms that assistance under the Treaty includes criminal tax matters. At St. Vincent's request, the side instrument takes the form of a Protocol rather than an exchange of diplomatic notes, but is substantively identical in content. Like the other two mutual legal assistance treaties, the Protocol forms an integral part of the Treaty. The Protocol states that the United States does not intend to seek assistance under the Treaty for civil and administrative income tax matters that are unrelated to any criminal matter. This merely restates what is in any event true by virtue of Article 1(1), which is a standard provision in mutual legal assistance treaties. Article 1(4) states explicitly that the Treaty is not intended to create rights in private parties to obtain, suppress, or exclude any evidence, or to impede the execution of a request. Article 2 provides for the establishment of Central Authorities and defines Central Authorities for purposes of the Treaty. For the United States, and likewise for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Central Authority is the Attorney General or a person designated by the Attorney General. The article provides that the Central Authorities will communicate directly with one another for the purposes of the Treaty. Article 3 sets forth the circumstances under which a Requested State's Central Authority may deny assistance under the Treaty. A request may be denied if it relates to a military offense that would not be an offense under ordinary criminal law. In addition, a request may be denied if its execution would prejudice the security or other essential public interests of the Requested State, or it it is not made in conformity with the Treaty. Further grounds for denial are that the request relates to a political offense (a term expected to be defined on the basis of that term's usage in extradition treaties) or that execution of the request would be contrary to the Constitution of the Requested State. This latter provision is similar to clauses in other United States mutual legal assistance treaties, the e.g., the treaty with Jamaica. A final ground for denial of assistance is that the request is made pursuant to provisions of theTreaty governing search and seizure (Article 14) or asset forfeiture (Article 16) and relates to conduct which would not be an offense if it had occurred in the Requested State. Thus, while ``dual criminality'' in general is not a prerequisite for assistance under this Treaty, the Requested State does retain discretion to deny a request relating to assistance sought under Articles 14 and 16. Before denying assistance under Article 3, the Central Authority of the Requested State is required to consult with its counterpart in the Requesting State to consider whether assistance can be given subject to such conditions as the Central Authority of the Requested State deems necessary. If the Requesting State accepts assistance subject to these conditions, it is required to comply with the conditions. If the Central Authority of the Requested State denies assistance, it is required to inform the Central Authority of the Requesting State of the reasons for the denial. Article 4 prescribes the form and content of written requests under the Treaty, specifying in detail the information required in each request. The article permits other forms of request in emergency situations but requires written confirmation within ten days thereafter unless the Central Authority of the Requested State agrees otherwise. Article 5 requires the Central Authority of the Requested State to execute the request promptly or to transmit it to the authority having jurisdiction to do so. It provides that the competent authorities of the Requested State must do everything in their power to execute a request, and that the judicial or other competent authorities of the Requested State must have authority to issue subpoenas, search warrants, or other orders necessary to execute the request. The Central Authority of the Requested State must make all arrangements for and meet the costs of representation of the Requesting State in any proceedings arising out of an assistance request. Under Article 5(3), requests are to be executed in accordance with the laws of the Requested State except to the extent that the Treaty provides otherwise. However, the method of execution specified in the request is to be followed except insofar as it is prohibited by the laws of the Requested State. If the Central Authority of the Requested State determines that execution of the request would interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation, prosecution, or proceeding in that State, it may postpone execution or, after consulting with the Central Authority of the Requesting State, impose conditions on execution. If the Requesting State accepts assistance subject to conditions, it shall comply with them. Article 5(5) further requires the Requested State, if so requested, to use its best efforts to keep confidential a request and its contents, and to inform the Requesting State's Central Authority if the request cannot be executed without breaching confidentiality. This provides the Requesting State an opportunity to decide whether to pursue the request or to withdraw it in order to maintain confidentiality. This article additionally requires the Requested State's Central Authority to respond to reasonable inquiries by the Requesting State's Central Authority regarding the status of the execution of a request; to report promptly to the Requesting State's Central Authority the outcome of its execution; and, if the request is denied, to inform the Requesting State's Central Authority of the reasons for the denial. Article 6 apportions between the two States the costs incurred in executing a request. It provides that the Requested State shall pay all costs, except for the following items to be paid by the Requesting State: fees of expert witnesses, costs of translation, interpretation, and transcription, and allowances and expenses related to travel of persons pursuant to Articles 10 and 11. Article 7 requires the Requesting State not to use information or evidence obtained under the Treaty for proceedings other than those described in the request without the prior consent of the Requested State. Further, if the Requested State's Central Authority asks that information or evidence furnished under this Treaty be kept confidential or be used in accordance with specified conditions, the Requesting State must use its best efforts to comply with the conditions. Once information is made public in the Requesting State in accordance with either of these provisions, no further limitations on use apply. Nothing in the article prevents the use or disclosure of information to the extent that there is an obligation to do so under the Constitution of the Requesting State in a criminal prosecution. The Requesting State is obliged to notify the Requested State in advance of any such proposed use or disclosure. Article 8 provides that a person in the Requested State from whom testimony or evidence is requested pursuant to the Treaty shall be compelled, ifnecessary, to appear and testify or produce items and articles of evidence. The article requires the Central Authority of the Requested State, upon request, to furnish information in advance about the date and place of the taking of testimony or evidence. Article 8(3) further requires the Requested State to permit the presence of persons specified in the request and to permit them to question the person giving the testimony or evidence. In the event that a person whose testimony or evidence is being taken asserts a claim of immunity, incapacity, or privilege under the laws of the Requesting State, Article 8(4) provides that the testimony or evidence shall be taken and the claim made known to the Central Authority of the Requesting State for resolution by its authorities. Finally, in order to ensure admissibility in evidence in the Requesting State, Article 8(5) provides a mechanism for authenticating evident that is produced pursuant to or that is the subject of testimony taken in the Requested State. Article 9 requires that the Requested State provide the Requesting State with copies of publicly available records in the possession of government departments and agencies in the Requested State. The Requested State may further provide copies of records or information in the possession of a government department or agency, but not publicly available, to the same extent and under the same conditions as it would provide them to its own law enforcement or judicial authorities. The Requested State has the discretion to deny such requests pursuant to this paragraph, entirely or in part. Article 9 also provides that no further authentication shall be necessary for admissibility into evidence in the Requesting State of official records where the official in charge of maintaining them authenticates the records through the use of Form B appended to this Treaty. Article 10(1) provides a mechanism for the Requesting State to invite the voluntary appearance in its territory of a person located in the Requested State. The Requesting State shall indicate the extent to which the expenses will be paid. Article 10(2) states that the Central Authority of the Requesting State has discretion to determine that a person appearing in the Requesting State shall not be subject to service of process or be detained or subjected to any restriction of personal liberty by reason of any acts or convictions that preceded his departure from the Requested State. Under Article 10(3), any safe conduct provided for by this article ceases seven days after the Central Authority of the Requesting State has notified the Central Authority of the Requested State that the person's presence is no longer required, or if the person has left the Requesting State and voluntarily returns to it. An extension of up to fifteen days for good cause may be granted by the Requesting State's Central Authority in its discretion. Article 11 provides for temporary transfer of a person in custody in the Requested State to the Requesting State for purposes of assistance under the Treaty (for example, a witness incarcerated in the Requested State may be transferred to the Requesting State to have his deposition taken in the presence of the defendant), provided that the person in question and the Central Authorities of both States agree. The article also provides for voluntary transfer of a person in the custody of the Requesting State to the Requested State for purposes of assistance under the Treaty (for example, a defendant in the Requesting State may be transferred for purposes of attending a witness deposition in the Requested State), if the person consents and if the Central Authorities of both States agree. Article 11(3) further establishes both the express authority and the obligation of the receiving State to maintain the person transferred in custody unless otherwise authorized by the sending State. The return of the person transferred shall occur as soon as circumstances permit or subject to terms and conditions agreed to by the Central Authorities, and the sending State is not required to initiate extradition proceedings for return of the person transferred. The person transferred receives credit for time served in the custody of the receiving State. Article 12 requires the Requested State to use its best efforts to ascertain the location or identify of persons or items specified in a request. Article 13 obligates the Requested State to use its best efforts to effect service of any document relating, in whole or in part, to any request for assistance under the Treaty. A request for the service of a document requiring a person to appear in the Requesting State must be transmitted a reasonable time before the scheduled appearance. Proof of service is to be provided in the manner specified in the request. Article 14 obligates the Requested State to execute requests for search, seizure, and delivery ofany item to the Requesting State if the request includes the information justifying such action under the laws of the Requested State. It provides that, upon request, every official who has custody of a seized item is required to certify, through the use of Form C appended to the Treaty, the continuity of custody, the identity of the item, and the integrity of its condition. No further certification is required. The certificate is admissible in evidence in the Requesting State. Article 14(3) further provides that the Central Authority of the Requested State may impose upon the Requesting State terms and conditions deemed necessary to protect third party interests in items to be transferred. Article 15 requires the Requesting State's Central Authority, upon request of its counterpart in the Requested State, to return documents, records, or articles of evidence obtained in the execution of a request under the Treaty as soon as possible. Article 16(1) provides that, if the Central Authority of one Contracting Party becomes aware of proceeds or instrumentalities of offenses that are located in the other Party and may be forfeitable or otherwise subject to seizure under the laws of that Party, it may so inform the Central Authority of that other Party. If the Party receiving such information has jurisdiction, it may present this information to its authorities for a determination whether any action is appropriate. The Central Authority of the Party receiving such information is required to inform the Central Authority of the Party that provided the information of the action taken. Article 16(2) obligates the Contracting Parties to assist each other to the extent permitted by their respective laws in proceedings relating to forfeiture of the proceeds and instrumentalities of offenses, restitution to victims of crime, and collection of fines imposed as sentences in criminal prosecutions. This may include action to temporarily immobilize the proceeds or instrumentalities pending further proceedings. Under Article 16(3), the Party having custody over proceeds or instrumentalities of offenses is required to dispose of them in accordance with its laws. Either Party may share all or part of such forfeited assets or the proceeds of their sale with the other Party, to the extent not prohibited by the transferring Party's laws and upon such terms as it deems appropriate. To the extent permitted by law, a conviction in the Requesting State may serve as a basis for forfeiture in the Requested State. Article 17 states that assistance and procedures provided in the Treaty will not prevent either Contracting Party from granting assistance to the other Party through the provisions of other applicable international agreements or through the provisions of its national laws. The Parties may also provide assistance pursuant to any bilateral arrangement, agreement, or practice which may be applicable. Article 18 provides that the Central Authorities of the Contracting Parties shall consult, at times mutually agreed, to promote the most effective use of the Treaty, and may agree upon such practical measures as may be necessary to facilitate the Treaty's implementation. Article 19 provides that the Treaty is subject to ratification and the instruments are to be exchanged at Washington, whereupon the Treaty will enter into force. Article 19(3) provides that the Treaty will apply to requests presented after the date of its entry into force, whether the relevant acts or omissions occurred prior to or after that date. Article 19(4) further provides that either party may terminate the Treaty by written notice of the other party, termination to take effect six months following the date of receipt of such notice. A Technical Analysis explaining in detail the provisions of the Treaty is being prepared by the United States negotiating delegation, consisting of representatives from the Departments of Justice and State, and will be transmitted separately to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The Department of Justice joins the Department of State in favoring approval of this Treaty and related Protocol by the Senate as soon as possible. Respectfully submitted, Strobe Talbot.