Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



This study is a comparative analysis of the international law of extradition as applied through the general extradition law of the United States and France. It will compare each country's approach to and attitude toward the phenomenon of extradition in a systematic analysis of the United States--French Treaty of Extradition.

Extradition is an extremely technical process that requires precision and cooperation between two sovereign systems, often different in fundamental legal theory and procedure. An extradition treaty represents an attempt by diplomatic and legal means to establish this process so that the two sovereign states can cooperate in rendering fugitive criminals to one another. It strives to accomplish this goal without seeming to diminish either party's sovereignty or to bypass or demean either's institutions, processes, or basic theories of criminal justice.

All this should be accomplished without violating the traditional rights of the accused fugitive. This is no easy task, and it is not made any simpler by the fact that the terms of the extradition treaty have meaning only when applied to disparate legal concepts and processes. These, in turn, have meaning only within each country's given cultural, linquistic, and anthropological context. Translation of these terms often exacerbates the problem by exchanging terms with a specific cultural and legal meaning in one context for terms having meaning only within the corresponding context of the other state. For example, the term "representation," which does not have to be translated in the United States--French Treaty because it is the same in both French and English, creates a completely different conceptual response in the French vis-a-vis the United States official. In the United States the term connotes an attorney actively and affirmatively representing the interests of his client. In France, on the other hand, the avocat general, the judicial officer designated to represent foreign states in extradition hearings, might do no more than present the papers for the state and respond to requests for discussion and information made by the court. Indeed, he may recommend that the court decide the case in a manner unfavorable to his client.