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[Senate Treaty Document 105-54]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]



105th Congress                                              Treaty Doc.
                                SENATE

 2d Session                                                      105-54
_______________________________________________________________________


 
           TREATY WITH BELIZE FOR RETURN OF STOLEN VEHICLES

                               __________

                                MESSAGE

                                  from

                   THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

                              transmitting

 TREATY BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND THE 
 GOVERNMENT OF BELIZE FOR THE RETURN OF STOLEN VEHICLES, WITH ANNEXES 
          AND PROTOCOL, SIGNED AT BELMOPAN ON OCTOBER 3, 1996





 June 23, 1998.--Treaty was read the first time, and together with the 
accompanying papers, referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations and 
             order to be printed for the use of the Senate


                         LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL

                              ----------                              

The White House,June 23, 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 Belize for the Return of Stolen Vehicles, with 
Annexes and Protocol, signed at Belmopan on October 3, 1996. 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 stolen vehicle treaties 
being negotiated by the United States in order to eliminate the 
difficulties faced by owners of vehicles that have been stolen 
and transported across international borders. When it enters 
into force, it will be an effective tool to facilitate the 
return of U.S. vehicles that have been stolen and taken to 
Belize. The Treaty establishes procedures for the recovery and 
return of vehicles that are registered, titled, or otherwise 
documented in the territory of one Party, stolen in the 
territory of one Party, stolen in the territory of that Party 
or from one of its nationals, and found in the territory of the 
other Party.
    I recommend that the Senate give early and favorable 
consideration to the Treaty, with Annexes and Protocol, and 
give its advice and consent to ratification.

                                                William J. Clinton.


                          LETTER OF SUBMITTAL

                              ----------                              

                                       Department of State,
                                          Washington, May 27, 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 Belize for the Return of Stolen Vehicles (the 
``Treaty''), with Annexes and Protocol, signed at Belmopan on 
October 3, 1996. I recommend that the Treaty, with Annexes and 
Protocol, signed at Belmopan on October 3, 1996. I recommend 
that the Treaty, with Annexes and Protocol, be transmitted to 
the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification.
    The Treaty establishes procedures for the recovery and 
return of vehicles that are registered, titled or otherwise 
documented in the territory of one Party, stolen in the 
territory of that Party or from one of its nationals, and found 
in the territory of the other Party. The United States 
currently has only one such treaty in force, the 1981 
Convention between the United States of America and the United 
Mexican States for the Recovery and Return of Stolen or 
Embezzled Vehicles and Aircraft. The Treaty with Belize is one 
of several treaties that have recently been negotiated with 
countries in Central America, the Caribbean, and Central 
Europe, and contains many provisions similar to those in the 
1981 Mexico treaty. The Treaty with Belize incorporates an 
important improvement in one aspect over the treaty with Mexico 
in that it sets more restrictive deadlines for action by the 
Party receiving a request for the return of a vehicle. As with 
the Mexico treaty, this Treaty will not require implementing 
legislation.
    Article 1 defines certain terms for purposes of the Treaty. 
Article 1(3) provides that a vehicle will not be presumed to be 
stolen when exported in accordance with the Protocol to the 
Treaty. The Protocol states the understanding of the Parties 
that the Government of Belize will not presume a vehicle to be 
stolen if it has been exported from the United States in 
accordance with U.S. legal requirements and if the person 
claiming to own the vehicle in Belize presents U.S. Customs 
documentation.
    Article 2 sets forth the agreement of the Parties, in 
accordance with the Treaty's terms, to return vehicles that are 
registered, titled, or otherwise documented in the territory of 
the other Party, stolen in the territory of the other Party or 
from one of its nationals, and found in the territory of the 
first Party.
    Article 3(1) requires that whenever the police, customs, or 
other authorities of a Party impound or seize a vehicle that 
they have reason to believe is registered, titled, or otherwise 
documented in theterritory of the other Party, the first Party 
shall, within 30 days of the impoundment or seizure, notify in writing 
the Embassy of the other Party that is authorities have custody of the 
vehicle. Article 3(2) provides that such notification will include all 
available identifying information about the vehicle listed in Annex 1 
appended to the Treaty.
    Article 4 requires the authorities of a Party who have 
impounded or seized a vehicle which may be subject to return 
under the Treaty to take reasonable steps to safeguard the 
vehicle, including preventing the obliteration or modification 
of identifying information such as vehicle identification 
numbers. The Article also prohibits such authorities from 
operating, auctioning, dismantling, or otherwise altering or 
disposing of the vehicle unless certain enumerated conditions 
are met, such as not having received a request for the return 
of the vehicle within 60 days of receipt of a notification made 
pursuant to Article 3.
    Article 5 prescribes the form and content of requests for 
return of vehicles under the Treaty. Article 5(1) provides that 
after a Party has received a notification pursuant to Article 
3, it may submit a request for the return of the vehicle. 
Article 5(2) requires the request to be transmitted under seal 
of a consular officer of the Requesting Party and to follow the 
form appended in Annex 2. The request must be transmitted under 
cover of a note to the foreign ministry of the Requested Party, 
and may be made only after receipt by the consular officer of 
certified copies of the documents listed in Article 5(2). 
Article 5(3) provides that no further legalization or 
authentication of documents shall be required by the Requested 
Party.
    Under Article 5, a Party that has learned outside of the 
Article 3 notification process that the authorities of the 
other Party may have impounded, seized, or otherwise taken 
possession of a vehicle that may be registered, titled, or 
otherwise documented in the territory of the first Party, may, 
through a note to the foreign ministry of the other Party, seek 
official confirmation of this and may request the other Party 
to provide notification pursuant to Article 3. The other Party 
must either provide the notification or explain, in writing, 
why notification is not required. The first Party may also, in 
appropriate cases, submit a request for return of the vehicle.
    Article 7(1) requires the Requested Party to determine, 
within 30 days of receiving a request for return of a stolen 
vehicle, whether the request meets the requirements of the 
Treaty and to notify the Embassy of the Requesting Party of its 
determination. Article 7(2) requires the Requested Party, 
within 15 days of its determination that a request for return 
meets the requirements of the Treaty, to make the vehicle 
available to the owner or the owner's authorized 
representative. The vehicle must remain available for the owner 
or the owner's authorizedrepresentative to take delivery for at 
least 90 days. The Requested Party is also required to take necessary 
measures to permit the owner or the owner's authorized representative 
to take delivery of the vehicle and return with it to the territory of 
the Requesting Party. Where the Requested Party determines that a 
request for return does not meet the requirements of the Treaty, under 
Article 7(3) it must provide written notification to the Embassy of the 
Requesting Party, including the grounds for its decision.
    Article 8 sets forth several circumstances under which a 
Requested State either has no obligation to return a vehicle 
whose return has been requested or can defer the surrender of 
the vehicle. Article 8(1) provides that if a vehicle whose 
return is requested is being held in connection with a criminal 
investigation or prosecution, its return will be effected when 
its presence is no longer required for that investigation or 
prosecution. However, the Requested Party is required to take 
all practicable measures to assure that substitute pictorial or 
other evidence is used wherever possible in such investigation 
or prosecution so that the vehicle may be returned as soon as 
possible.
    Article 8(2) states that where the ownership or custody of 
a vehicle whose return is requested is the subject of a pending 
judicial action in the territory of the Requested Party, its 
return shall be effected at the conclusion of the judicial 
action. The Requested Party will have no obligation to return 
the vehicle if such judicial action results in a final decision 
that awards the vehicle to a person other than the person 
identified in the request for return as the owner of the 
vehicle or the owner's authorized representative. It further 
provides that judicial actions under this Article may include 
adjudication by an administrative panel specifically designated 
by the Requested Party to review the question of ownership or 
custody of vehicles, so long as the Requested Party gives the 
Requesting party at least 60 days written notice of the 
administrative proceeding, and the decision of the 
administrative panel may be appealed to a court of law by any 
person claiming ownership of the vehicle.
    Article 8(3) provides that a Party will have no obligation 
to return a vehicle whose return is requested if the vehicle is 
subject to forfeiture under its laws because it was used in its 
territory for the commission of a crime with the consent or 
complicity of the owner, or represents the proceeds of such a 
crime. The Requested Party is required to give the owner or the 
owner's authorized representative reasonable notice and an 
opportunity to contest such forfeiture in accordance with its 
laws.
    Under Article 8(4), a Party will have no obligation to 
return a stolen vehicle if no request for return is received 
within 60 days of receipt of a notification made pursuant to 
Article 3 .
    Article 8(5) requires the Requested Party to notify the 
Embassy of the Requesting Party in writing within 30 days of 
receipt of a request for return if the return of a stolen 
vehicle is postponed pursuant to Article 8.
    Article 9(1) prohibits the Requested Party from imposing 
any import or export duties, taxes, fines, or other monetary 
penalties or charges on vehicles returned in accordance with 
the Treaty, or on their owners or authorized representatives, 
as a condition for the return of such vehicles.
    Article 9(2) and 9(3) apportions the expenses associated 
with the return of vehicles under the Treaty. Article 9(2) 
provides that reasonable expenses incurred in the return, 
including towing costs, storage costs, maintenance costs, 
transportation costs, and costs of translation of documents 
required under the Treaty will be borne by the person seeking 
its return and will be paid prior to the return of the vehicle. 
Under Article 9(3), the expenses of return in particular cases 
may include the costs of any repairs or reconditioning of a 
vehicle that were necessary to permit the vehicle to be moved 
to a storage area or maintained in the condition in which it 
was found. However, the person seeking the return of the 
vehicle will not be responsible for the costs of any other work 
performed on the vehicle while it was in the custody of the 
authorities of the Requested Party.
    Article 9(4) provides that if the Requested Party complies 
with the provisions of the Treaty with respect to recovery, 
storage, safekeeping, and, where appropriate, return of a 
vehicle, and, where appropriate, return of a vehicle, no person 
will be entitled to compensation from the Requested Party for 
any damage caused to or sustained by the vehicle while in the 
custody of the Requested Party.
    Article 10 provides that the mechanisms for the recovery 
and return of stolen vehicles under this Treaty shall be in 
addition to those available under the laws of the Requested 
Party, and that nothing in the Treaty shall impair any rights 
for the recovery of stolen vehicles under applicable law.
    Article 11(1) requires any differences regarding the 
interpretation or application of the Treaty to be resolved 
through consultations between the Parties. Article 11(2) states 
that the Treaty will be subject to ratification and will enter 
into force on the date of exchange of instruments of 
ratification. Article 11(13) states that the annexes and 
Protocol appended to the Treaty will be considered an integral 
part of the Treaty. Article 11(4) further provides that either 
Party may terminate the Treaty upon a minimum of 90 days 
written notification.
    The Department of Justice joins the Department of State in 
favoring approval of the Treaty, with Annexes and Protocol, by 
the Senate as soon as possible.
    Respectfully submitted,
                                                 Strobe Talbot.