Thursday, September 13, 2007

Noriega and the Ambiguities of International Law

This is an update on an earlier blog this month on the ex-Panamanian President, Manuel Noriega, who is now serving a ten-year sentence in France under money laundering charges. There was an issue over whether Noriega ought to be extradited to Panama, where he is wanted for other crimes still, or France. If sent to Panama, however, he would not have been able to be extradited again (if he lived out his sentence there) since the Panamanian constitution forbids the extradition of its citizens. Which presumes Noriega to still be a citizen of Panama. Previous international law cases, the historic Lotus case, for example, (in which Turkish courts were upheld the ability to try French nationals in Turkish jurisdictions), give credence to this sort of arbitrary due processing, where citizens tried abroad must uphold decisions that are made abroad.

Nonetheless, if Noriega had gone to Panama, it would certainly have raised questions and concerns domestically about the current government, led by President Martin Torrijos, who is a member of the same political party Noriega was, the Revolutionary Democratic Party. The current speaker of their National Assembly is also wanted for murder charges in the United States.

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