U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft discusses Czech-U.S. extradition agreement in Prague

Pavel Nemec and John Ashcroft, Photo: CTK

The outgoing U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has been on a short visit to the Czech Republic. Together with the Czech Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan, he agreed there is a need to sign a new agreement between the United States and the Czech Republic regarding the mutual extradition of their citizens.

John Ashcroft: "We have an extradition agreement with the Czech Republic which is 80 years old."

As John Ashcroft told journalists, this is the core of the problem. At present the two countries extradite their citizens suspected of having committed crimes in the other country under an agreement from 1925. The document is outdated and does not apply to certain crimes, for example, in the field of economic or drugs-related crime.

The Czech Republic is guided by the European Union's framework agreement with the United States, which states that the US will solve the question of extradition with each EU member individually. But according to the Czech Justice Minister Pavel Nemec, who also met Mr. Ashcroft, it is not very likely that the new agreement will be signed in the near future.

Pavel Nemec and John Ashcroft, Photo: CTK
"We agreed that the United States will first finish negotiations with the old EU members and later they sign similar agreements with other countries. This is no problem for us. We see a good chance of an agreement that will fulfil the purpose of the extradition and will respect the Czech constitution at the same time."

Besides extradition Minister Nemec and General Attorney Ashcroft discussed other issues.

"We also discussed cooperation between the judicial bodies of our two countries. Cooperation between units that focus on reducing organized crime and on the fight against terrorism is particularly good, so we have something to build on in the future."

John Ashcroft's visit also covered issues of cooperation between the American and Czech police and intelligence bodies, human trafficking and fight against drugs. He discussed with Czech politicians the sensitive issue of visa requirements for Czech citizens travelling to the USA, but at this stage there is still no sign that visas will be lifted in the near future.