RP-SPAIN EXTRADITION TREATY DRAFTED

Manila, Feb. 8, 2003 - An extradition treaty with Spain is now being drafted, the tenth so far the Philippines has forged with other countries, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced yesterday.

DOJ Undersecretary Merceditas Gutierrez said negotiations are now underway as she will be accompanying State Counsel Claro Flores to Madrid next week to discuss the draft extradition treaty and mutual legal assistance treaties.

"I was given full powers to negotiate a treaty on extradition and mutual legal assistance with the Spanish government and that would be held at the Ministry of Justice at Madrid, Spain and the negotiations would last for a week," Gutierrez said.

Should the treaty be signed, Gutierrez said Spain will be the tenth country with which the Philippines has agreed to turn over their respective citizens facing criminal charges, in the same way Filipino fugitives can be turned over by the host countries to our jurisdiction.

"But we will also be having negotiations on Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with Spain. So there would be actually negotiations on the two treaties," Gutierrez added.

So far, Philippines has inked extradition treaties with nine countries: Indonesia in 1976, Thailand in 1981, Australia in 1988, Micronesia in 1990, Korea in 1993, United States in 1994, Hong Kong in 1995, and Canada and Switzerland in 1997.

A representative from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is expected to join Gutierrez and Flores in the negotiations with Spanish officials.

Gutierrez said the treaty is expected to be signed "within the year" but it still "depends on the readiness of the Spanish government to have the treaty signed."

So far, there are no reports of Filipino fugitives in Spain, Gutierrez said. (By Delon Porcalla, Star)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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