In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt signed a treaty with the new country, Panama, for the extradition of U.S. fugitives. The Panama – USA Extradition Treaty provided a list of crimes committed within U.S. borders and jurisdictions enabling Panamanian officials to arrest and to extradite fugitives wanted in the U.S.
The Panama – U.S. Extradition Treaty was a bilateral treaty. That means that in addition to Panama apprehending, arresting, and extraditing persons wanted in the U.S. who have been charged with or convicted of any of the crimes and offenses listed in the treaty; the U.S. will do the same for anyone wanted by the Panamanian authorities and its judicial system.
This treaty listed the following crimes and offenses allowing for the extradition:
- Murder, attempts to commit murder, and voluntary manslaughter;
- Robbery by force and feloniously using violence or fear, and burglary;
- Forgery or uttering forged or falsified papers;
- Counterfeiting, falsifying, or altering money, instruments of debt created by nations, state or local governments, or coupons , or bank notes, or seals of state;
- Embezzlement by public officials, or employees against their employers, exceeding $200, and larceny;
- Fraud or a violation of trust by a banker, bailee, trustee, agent, or any other person in a fiduciary capacity, or an officer or director of a company which activity is a criminal offense in both countries and the amount of money or property value exceeds $200;
- Rape, abduction, or kidnapping;
- Willful and unlawful destruction of railroads which endangers human life;
- Crimes committed at sea including piracy, revolting or conspiracy to cause a revolt by two or more persons on board a ship on the high seas against the master’s authority, wrongfully destroying or sinking a vessel at sea or the attempt to do so, or committing an assault on board a ship on the high seas with the intent to cause great bodily injury;
- Crimes and offenses against both countries laws for suppressing slavery and slave trading;
- Bribery by giving or offering or receiving a reward to influence any person in the discharge of a legal duty.
Fugitives who have been convicted of one of these crimes, an authenticated copy of the court’s sentence for the crime must be submitted to the other country’s authorities. In the case of a fugitive charged with one of these crimes, an authenticated copy of the warrant for arrest along with the depositions or other evidence upon such warrant was issued shall be produced.
Neither country shall be bound to deliver its own citizens under this treaty.
The fugitive shall not be surrendered if the nature of the offense is of a political character. Nor will the fugitive be subject to trial or punished for any previous acts which are political crimes or offenses. The decision based on political character of the crime or offense will be made by the country which is asked to grant the extradition and will be final.
Extradition will not be granted if the legal procedures or enforcement are barred by a statute of limitations of the country being requested to extradite.
All expenses of the arrest, detention, examination, and transportation of the fugitive will be paid by the requesting country.
The Panama – USA Extradition Treaty involves a time consuming process taking months before the fugitive can be extradited.
Note: Panama in the past several years has avoided the long extradition process by simply deporting the fugitive to his home country if he or she was illegally staying in Panama. Using a false passport, over staying a tourist visa, or violating any immigration laws provide the basis for immediate deportation to his or her home country.