US-EU extradition deal criticised

An international human rights group criticised on Wednesday a planned extradition deal between the European Union and the United States, saying the pact contained "serious flaws".

    Criticism that the US cannot
    guarantee a fair trial may not stop
    the EU from signing more deals

    Amnesty International said the proposed deal was incapable of protecting suspects who may face a death penalty in the United States and that guarantees on fair trials were conspicuous by their absence.

    "Here is an agreement essentially negotiated in secret and due to be automatically approved... which still contains serious flaws as far as human rights guarantees are concerned," said Dick Oosting, director of Amnesty International's EU Office.

    He said Amnesty was also worried that someone could be extradited to face one of the military ‘terror’ tribunals endorsed by US President Bush, which have the power to impose the death sentence.
       
    "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," Oosting said in a statement.

    The agreement is expected to be approved on Friday by EU justice ministers after almost a year of talks between the Union and Washington. 
           
    EU Parliament concerns

    The European Parliament (EP) expressed its displeasure with EU governments for even considering entering into an extradition treaty with a nation that endorses the use of capital punishment.

    France wants to add EU article 6.2
    to the agreement

    The EP adopted by 356 to 63 an appeal for substantial change to the agreement, but it is unlikely that the EU Council will act on yesterday’s non-binding recommendation.          
       
    EU Parliament was also concerned with "Camp X-Ray" at Guantanamo Bay, where the United States has, for over a year, been holding more than 600 prisoners from 40 nations captured during its so-called "war on terror".

    Guantanamo Bay

    In a vote last week on the report by Spanish Conservative Jorge Salvador Hern?ndez Mollar, the European Parliament Citizens Rights Committee called on EU authorities to make the signing of any agreement conditional on obtaining a just solution to the situation of European citizens held at Guantanamo bay.

    The report says it “considers that it is contradictory to conclude legal co-operation agreements with the United States, while several EU citizens are being held on the US military base of Guantanamo, contrary to US and international law, and without the slightest guarantee of a fair trial".


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