The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 13, 2002

Message to the Senate of the United States


With a view to receiving the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, I transmit herewith, the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism, adopted at the Thirty-Second Regular Session of the OAS General Assembly meeting in Bridgetown, Barbados, on June 3, 2002, and opened for signature on that date. At that time it was signed by 30 of the 33 members attending the meeting, including the United States. It has subsequently been signed by another two member states, leaving only two states that have not yet signed. In addition, I transmit herewith, for the information of the Senate, the report of the Department of State.

The negotiation of the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism (the "Convention") was a direct response to the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. At that time, the OAS was meeting in Lima, Peru, to adopt a Democratic Charter uniting all 34 democracies in the hemisphere. The OAS member states expressed their strong commitment to assist the United States in preventing such incidents from occurring again anywhere in our hemisphere. Within 10 days, the foreign ministers of the OAS member states, meeting in Washington, D.C., endorsed the idea of drafting a regional convention against terrorism. Argentina, Peru, Chile, and Mexico played particularly important roles in the development and negotiation of the Convention.

The Convention will advance important United States Government interests and enhance hemispheric security by improving regional cooperation in the fight against terrorism. The forms of enhanced cooperation include exchanges of information, exchanges of experience and training, technical cooperation, and mutual legal assistance. The Convention is consistent with, and builds upon, previous counterterrorism instruments and U.N. Security Council Resolution 1373, which mandates certain measures to combat terrorism.

The Convention provides for regional use of a variety of legal tools that have proven effective against terrorism and transnational organized crime in recent years. Since fighting terrorist financing has been identified as an essential part of the fight against terrorism, the Convention addresses crucial financial regulatory, as well as criminal law, aspects. Existing Federal authority is sufficient to discharge the obligations of the United States under this Convention, and therefore no implementing legislation will be required.

In particular, the Convention mandates the establishment of financial intelligence units for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of terrorist financing information and the establishment and enhancement of channels of communication between law enforcement authorities for secure and rapid exchange of information concerning all aspects of terrorist offenses; the exchange of information to improve border and customs control measures to detect and prevent movement of terrorists and terrorist-related materials; and technical cooperation and training programs.

The Convention also provides measures relating to the denial of refugee or asylum status. In addition, the Convention provides that terrorist acts may not be considered "political" offenses for which extradition or mutual legal assistance requests can be denied, and provides for other mechanisms to facilitate mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.

In sum, the Convention is in the interests of the United States and represents an important step in the fight against terrorism. I therefore recommend that the Senate give prompt and favorable consideration to the Convention, subject to the understandings that are described in the accompanying report of the Department of State, and give its advice and consent to ratification.

November 12, 2002.

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