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The nonextradition treaty

August 1, 2012

One of the few justifications that can be offered up for a government’s existence is that it is sometimes able to provide its citizens with protection and improved safety.  That is good.  That is certainly worthwhile and makes it more difficult for us to find fault with the concept of government.  So long as a government can better the lives of its citizens without intruding on their rights as individuals, then it is not entirely offensive.  However, when the government deliberately takes actions to harm those whom it should be protecting, it becomes absolutely indefensible.

The extradition treaty is one example of such an indefensible act.  By entering into an extradition treaty, a government agrees to hand its citizens over to foreigners for punishment, regardless of whether they have offended against the laws of their own country.  Instead of protecting them from accusations, it invites threats against them and then collaborates with outsiders whom it has no conceivable responsibility towards in order to harm them.  When a government signs an extradition treaty, it declares that it does not even care enough about its citizens to protect them from their aggressors.

The fly in the ointment, of course, is that the government holds that those who defy a law, whatever its form, become unworthy of its protection.  The concept of “law” in the nation-state is sacred, and to offend against any law in any way is a threat to the concept as a whole.  Therefore, to the government of a state, the breaking of any law, even someone else’s law, is an act of lese majeste which threatens it, and it is thus willing to assist its fellow states in punishing the offender.  Such an action, in fact, is necessary if the state is to maintain its monopoly on violence.  And extradition becomes the mechanism used among states to reinforce the idea that law in general is beyond effectual defiance.

Governments that truly cared about their citizens would sign nonextradition treaties.  That none of them have is testimony to where their interests truly lie.

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