DEPARTMENT OF STATE, FOREIGN OPERATIONS, AND RELATED PROGRAMS APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2006
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Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I offer an amendment to the appropriations bill for State and Foreign Operations in regard to an issue that is very troubling to me. When an individual is charged with a crime and flees to a foreign country, it is the responsibility of the U.S. Department of State to seek extradition of that fugitive.
In some instances, countries will refuse extradition. A common reason is where the prosecutors in the United States intend to seek the death penalty. Oftentimes, the prosecutors will waive the death penalty in order for the extradition to proceed successfully. I suppose this is an understandable bargain because not all countries around the world accept capital punishment.
I am greatly concerned, however, about other instances where extradition is denied. For example, let me explain what happened to the son of a man named David Fulton, who is a constituent of mine from Hampton, GA.
On December 21, 2002, Mr. Fulton's son, CPL Joshia Fulton of the U.S. Marine Corps, was murdered right here on the streets of Washington, DC. At the time of his murder, Corporal Fulton was a member of the elite Presidential protection program called Yankee White, an assignment through which he had the honor of traveling abroad with the President of the United States. Corporal Fulton was awaiting assignment for service as a guard in the West Wing of the White House when he was killed.
After an investigation by the District of Columbia police department, a criminal complaint was filed charging a suspect named Carlos Almanza with the murder of Joshia Fulton. Almanza, however, fled the United States to his home country, the Republic of Nicaragua, where that country's constitution prohibits extradition of its citizens.
If Nicaragua refuses to turn this murder suspect over to the U.S. authorities so he can be brought to justice in the United States, where this heinous crime occurred, then Nicaragua should not receive any financial aid from the United States under the appropriations bill now before the Senate. Nicaragua's constitutional ban on extradition of its citizens who are fugitives from justice is simply no excuse. That law needs to change if they want to continue to receive American aid.
Mr. President, let me point out another situation in which extradition of criminal suspects has been frustrated in recent times; that is, where countries will not extradite fugitives not because they face the death penalty but because they face life in prison without parole.
For example, in October 2001, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that extradition of a person from Mexico who faces life imprisonment in the United States would violate the Mexican Constitution's bar on cruel and unusual punishment. This decision has resulted in a serious setback to the United States-Mexico so-called bilateral relationship.
Since that court decision, the Mexican Government has asked the United States for assurances that life imprisonment would not be imposed on persons extradited to this country. In the absence of such assurance, they refused to extradite.
The impact of the Mexican Supreme Court decision has been ``severe,'' as described by the Department of Justice. Not only have extradition requests been denied by the courts, but many prosecutors hesitate to seek extradition due to the requirement of lessening a sentence.
Costa Rica, Spain, Venezuela, and Portugal have also sought non-imposition of life sentences. Some of these countries have even set term limits for the maximum number of years a criminal faces before they will extradite. In Costa Rica, it is 50 years; in Venezuela, it is 30 years; in Portugal, it is 20 years.
My amendment reads simply as follows:
None of the funds made available in this Act for the Department of State, other than funds made available in title III under the heading ``International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement,'' may be used to provide assistance to any country whose government has notified the Department of State of its refusal to extradite to the United States an individual, or has not within a reasonable period of time responded to a request for extradition to the United States of an individual, charged with committing a criminal offense in the United States for which the maximum penalty is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, or a lesser term of imprisonment, regardless of his or her citizenship status.
My intent in offering this amendment is not to deny aid to any country but, rather, to provide a substantial incentive for recalcitrant countries to reform their extradition laws so that suspected criminals can be brought to justice in the United States, which I submit to you offers the greatest due process protections to those who stand accused of a crime of any country in the world.
Mr. President, I applaud the House of Representatives for recently passing similar amendments to the State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill that will deny U.S. aid to countries that refuse to extradite fugitive criminal suspects to the United States. My colleague, Congressman Nathan Deal of Georgia, offered such an amendment in the House, and it passed by a vote of 294 to 132. Likewise, Congressman Bob Beauprez of Colorado offered an amendment that would withhold funds to any country that refuses to extradite a fugitive cop-killer suspect. His amendment passed on a vote of 327 to 98.
The thought behind my amendment, as well as those passed by our colleagues in the House, is that financial assistance from the United States is a privilege--a privilege that can and should be revoked where a recipient country refuses to extend to the United
States the simple courtesy of sending back those who have been charged with breaking our laws. These fugitives should not be allowed to seek refuge under the laws of countries who would purport to be our friends.
Friendship should be reciprocal and, consequently, privileges like foreign aid can be revocable. The bottom line on my amendment is that we should not spend the tax dollars of hard-working Americans to assist countries that don't want to treat us with the respect that a friendship deserves.
Mr. President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.