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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                   (Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts)
For Immediate Release                                  September 4, 1997


With a view to receiving the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, I transmit herewith the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters ("the Convention"), adopted at the twenty-second regular session of the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly meeting in Nassau, The Bahamas, on May 23, 1992, and the Optional Protocol Related to the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters ("the Protocol"), adopted at the twenty-third regular session of the OAS General Assembly meeting in Managua, Nicaragua, on June 11, 1993. Both of these instruments were signed on behalf of the United States at the OAS headquarters in Washington on January 10, 1995. In addition, for the information of the Senate, I transmit the report of the Department of State with respect to the Convention and the Protocol.

When ratified, the Convention and the Protocol will constitute the first multilateral convention between the United States and other members of the OAS in the field of international judicial cooperation in criminal matters. The provisions of the Convention and Protocol are explained in the report of the Department of State that accompanies this message.

The Convention and Protocol will establish a treaty-based system of judicial assistance in criminal matters analogous to that which exists bilaterally between the United States and a number of countries. These instruments should prove to be effective tools to assist in the prosecution of a wide variety of modern criminals, including members of drug cartels, "white-collar" criminals, and terrorists. The Convention and Protocol are self-executing, and will not require implementing legislation.

The Convention provides for a broad range of cooperation in criminal matters. Mutual assistance available under the Convention includes: (1) taking testimony or statements of persons; (2) providing documents, records, and articles of evidence; (3) serving documents; (4) locating or identifying persons or items; (5) transferring persons in custody for testimony or other purposes; (6) executing requests for searches and seizures; (7) assisting in forfeiture proceedings; and (8) rendering any other form of assistance not prohibited by the laws of the Requested State.

The Protocol was negotiated and adopted at the insistence of the United States Government, and will permit a greater measure of cooperation in connection with tax offenses. I believe that the Convention should not be ratified by the United States without the Protocol. If the Convention and Protocol are ratified, the instruments of ratification would be deposited simultaneously.

One significant advantage of this Convention and Protocol is that they provide uniform procedures and rules for cooperation in criminal matters by all the states that become Party. In addition, the Convention and Protocol would obviate the expenditure of resources that would be required for the United States to negotiate and bring into force bilateral mutual assistance treaties with certain OAS member states.

I recommend that the Senate give early and favorable consideration to the Convention and the Protocol, and that it give its advice and consent to ratification, subject to the understandings described in the accompanying report of the Department of State.



September 3, 1997.

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