1992

USSC

US v. Alvarez Machain 504 US 655 (1992)

Alvarez Machain a Mexican Citizen was forcibly kidnapped from his home and flown by plane to Texas, where he was arrested for his participation in the kidnapping and murder in Mexico of the DEA Agent, Enrique Camarena. Resolution A defendant may not be prosecuted in violation of the terms of an extradition treaty. US v Rauscher 119 US 407 (1886). In Ker v Illinois 119 US 436 (1886) Frederic Ker had been tried and convicted in an Illinois court for larceny; his presence before the court was procured by means of forcible abduction from Peru. A messenger {private person} was sent to Peru with the proper warrant to demand Ker by virtue of the extradition treaty between Peru and the US. The messenger, however, disdained reliance on the treaty processes, and instead forcibly kidnapped Ker and brought him to the US. In constructing a treaty, as in constructing a statute, We first look to its terms to determine its meaning. Air France v Saks 470 US 392, 396 (1985)… The treaty says nothing about the obligations of the United States and Mexico to refrain from forcible abductions of people from the territory of the other nation, or the consequences under the Treaty if such an abduction occurs

The Mexican government was aware, as early as 1906, of the Ker doctrine, and the US’s position that it applied to forcible abductions made outside of the terms of the US-Mexico Extradition Treaty. Nonetheless the current version of the Treaty, signed in 1978, does not attempt to establish a rule that would in any way curtail the effect of Ker. Thus the language of the Treaty, in the context of its history, does not support the proposition that the Treaty prohibits abductions outside of its terms …respondent contends that the treaty must be interpreted against the backdrop of customary international law, and that international abductions are ‘so clearly prohibited in International law’ that there was no reason to include such a clause in the Treaty itself. Respondent and his amici may be correct that the respondent’s abduction was “shocking” … and that it may be in violation of general international law principles.. We conclude, however, that the respondent’s abduction was not a violation of the of the Extradition Treaty between the United States and Mexico and therefore the rule of Ker v. Illinois is fully applicable to this case {This case is different from previous ones in the US. It does not involve an ordinary abduction by a private kidnaper or bountry hunter as in Ker, nor does it involve the apprehension of an American fugitive who committed a crime in one State and sought asylum in another as in Frisbie. Rather it involves the country’s abduction of another country’s citizen, a violation of the territorial integrity of one country.}