An international convention requiring countries either to extradite hijackers or prosecute them was signed by members of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (I.
An international convention requiring countries either to extradite hijackers or prosecute them was signed by members of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (I.C.A.O.) in the Hague on Wednesday (16 December).
The convention, the result of two weeks of debates, is designed to close up loopholes in the existing laws against air piracy.
Although it does not require signatories of the convention to extradite hijackers to the countries they came from, as the USSR had proposed, it does require states to prosecute offenders "without exception whatsoever" if they are not extradited.
The wording of the original draft stating that the convention could be considered as an extradition treaty was changed to leave the question of extradition or punishment in the hands of the country holding the hijackers.
Informed sources said that this change reflected the desire of most countries to reserve for themselves the decision of whether to extradite, specially in cases where the hijacker had asked for political asylum.
The importance of the convention was underlined during the debate by the Dutch Minister of Justice, Dr. Carel Polak. he said that 86 aircraft had been hijacked in the first nine months of this year, involving more than 8,000 passengers. Dr. Polak said that "no airline, no air passenger, no country can feel secure against the unlawful seizure of an aircraft".
This was reflected by the political and ideological diversity of the signatory states. They included the USSR, USA, the People's Republic of China, Israel, and 72 other of the 120 member states. There were no votes against the convention, and only two states abstained-Algeria and Chile.
SYNOPSIS: Delegates from 77 member-state of the International Civil Aviation Organisation attended a conference on hijacking at the Hague over the last two weeks. The conference ended on Wednesday when the delegate voted on a text requiring the signatory countries either to extradite or prosecute hijackers. The convention is designed to close up loopholes in laws against air piracy, and to spell the end of hijacking.
When it came to the final voting, after two weeks of debate, there were no votes against the convention. There were only two abstentions -- Algeria and Chile.
The delegates began signing the convention immediately. The convention does not insist that members holding hijackers have to extradite them to the countries where they come from. This was what the Soviet Union proposed. But the convention does say that if hijackers are not extradited, they must be prosecuted "without exception whatsoever". The working of the original draft, which said that the convention could be regarded as an extradition treaty, was changed to leave the question of extradition or punishment in the hands of the country holding the hijackers. This reflects the desire of most states to decide this for themselves. Extradition or punishment is especially relevant in the case of hijackers who demand political asylum.
The People's Republic of China was among the states to sign the convention. So was the Soviet Union the United States of America and another 73 of the member states.
The importance of the convention was underlined by the Dutch Minister of Justice, Dr. Carol Polak. He said that in the first nine months of this year 86 aircraft had been hijacked, involving more than 8,000 passengers. Dr. Polak said "No airline, no air passenger, no country can feel secure against the unlawful seizure of aircraft". The almost complete unanimity in the voting on the convention echoed this. There were no votes against and two abstentions. Here the Soviet Union delegate signs. By the end of the session 49 states had given their signatures.