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Sri Lanka: Probably Not Such A Good Place to Be A Fugitive

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Here at DealBreaker, we spend an unhealthy amount of time discussing ways to flee from justice and where to flee. Always at the top of our list of questions—what is the extradition policy of a potential hideout? So when news broke today that Kobi Alexander had been spotted in Sri Lanka, we turned to international extradition specialist Douglas McNabb of McNabb Associates for the lowdown. As it turns out, Sri Lanka is probably not such a good place to hide from the arm of US law enforcement.
Obviously, the best place to hide out is a country without an extradition treaty with the US. Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer of these, and often they are not the most comfortable place to live. The next best plan is to find a country with a limited treaty, under which a fugitive can only be extradited for the most serious crimes.
But even if you cannot get to one of these countries, there’s still a difference between countries with recent extradition treaties and ones with older treaties, McNabb explains. The recent treaties define extraditable offenses very broadly—basically, the alleged action just needs to be a felony in both countries. These make extradition a relatively straight forward affair. The older treaties contain a laundry list of extraditable crimes—meaning the US must show that the alleged crime fits one of the crimes listed in the treaty. For laws of more recent provenance, this can make extradition more difficult.
“I’m not saying it’s a slam dunk you are going to lose with the modern clauses, but they certainly make it harder to contest extradition,” McNabb says.
Sri Lanka’s extradition treaty with the US went into effect in 2001, and contains the broad, general extraditable offense language. Which means that Alexander might have a difficult time contesting his extradition if he is detained by Sri Lankan authorities.
(Incidentally, Israel—where Alexander has strong ties and was rumored to be hiding before his discovery in Sri Lanka—has the older, more defendant-friendly treaty. So Alexander might have been better off hiding there—at least for now. Unfortunately for Alexander, earlier this month the US Senate ratified an amendment to this treaty so that once it goes into effect following execution by the President, it too will have the broader clause of contemporary treaties.)
International Extradition [McNabb Associates]