Even where a fugitive might otherwise be extraditable, our treaties and some foreign laws have other exceptions to the obligations to extradite, which sometimes make extradition impossible in particular circumstances.
-- An almost universal treaty exception, known in international extradition law as the “” doctrine, is similar to the double jeopardy doctrine under U.S. domestic law, and provides that extradition will be denied when the person has already been either acquitted or convicted for the same offense in the country from which extradition is requested, or, in some instances, in a third country.
-- A similarly widely adopted exception is that extradition is not required where the crime at issue is a “political offense” (a term which can cover treason, sedition or other crime against the state without the elements of any ordinary crime, or which under U.S. law can cover ordinary crimes committed incidental to or in furtherance of a violent political uprising such as a war, revolution or rebellion, especially when such crimes do not target civilian victims) or a “military offense” (a crime subject to military law that is not criminalized under normal penal law).
-- Other limitations on the obligation to extradite, which vary to some extent from treaty to treaty, would relate to requests for extradition for extraterritorial offenses where the two countries’ laws differ on the reach of jurisdiction over such crimes. In such cases, the United States seeks the greatest possible flexibility in our treaties to permit extradition for offenses that have taken place in whole or in part outside the territory of the requesting party.
-- Finally, our treaties typically provide that extradition may be denied if the request is found to be politically motivated. Some of our treaties provide that extradition may be denied if the request was made for the primary purpose of prosecuting or punishing the person sought on account of race, religion, nationality or political opinion.
Additional Factors that Sometimes Impede Extradition
There are several other circumstances that can preclude the return of fugitives to the United States for trial, even where there is an extradition treaty in force and nationality and other barriers discussed above do not constitute a legal bar to extradition.
-- Sometimes a country may in effect become a safe haven for one or more fugitives through no fault of the government of the country in question. Even if an extradition treaty is in force, a vast land mass, difficult terrain and inadequate police force or resources may make it possible for fugitives to hide.
-- In some cases, a country may have difficulty meeting its obligations under a new extradition treaty until it is able to ensure that its legal and judicial infrastructure is organized and trained to respond to foreign requests for extradition. The United States