Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


Douglas Kuber


Extradition treaties and international conventions have often proved ineffective as remedies against terrorism due to the "political offenses" exception which they often contain. This exception forbids the granting of any extradition request when the crime for which the accused is sought is "political in character and purpose." Due to widely varying interpretations of this exception, terrorists often escape justice simply by traveling to another country. This Note examines the policies underlying the political offenses exception and sets forth the interpretations given it by British, French, Swiss and United States courts. Drawing upon the approaches of these courts and a United States proposal for legislation, this Note proposes two definitional frameworks for use by the judiciary. These proposals seek to redefine the political offense exception to protect legitimate political actors while preventing terrorists from abusing this defense to extradition.