Where can Trump go to escape the law? The Bahamas?

For background, see

“Where can Trump go to escape the law?” The Trenchant Observer, October 17, 2020.

Donald Trump is musing about where he might go if he loses the election and has to leave the country.

One country that could appeal to Trump and his collaborators is The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.  It has a climate not unlike that of Mar-a-Lago in Miami, is a frequent tourist destination, and is well-known for its gambling casinos.

Moreover, it is not too far from Miami by air or by sea, and would offer the more adventurous among Trump and his entourage, including his family and other collaborators, ample opportunities for furtive landings, whether in planes or in boats, in or near Mar-a-Lago or other rendez-vous, where they might sneak in a quick game of golf, or even a well-planned dinner at Mar-a-Lago.

The thriving casino and tourist scene could be especially attractive to Trump and his collaborators.  There he could build an impressive Trump Tower and Casino Resort, drawing on his experience both in building Trump Towers and golf courses, and his experience with gambling casinos in Atlantic City.

While the native population and government officials in the Bahamas are of African descent, most of the blacks live “over the hill” in shantytowns and “popular” neighborhoods, whereas the Western, casino, ocean-facing part of Nassau and many areas of the island are populated by wealthy white citizens and residents.  Their homes can be quite luxurious and impressive.

One could easily navigate Nassau and the main island without any acute feeling of being a racial minority.  There are also many  lovely smaller islands in the Bahamas, which Trump and his collaborators who love to move about could readily use to build second homes.

The Bahamas is a member of the British Commonwealth, and one might expect no greater problems in moving money about than one encounters in, e.g., London.  While the government is run by natives, Trump and his entourage might expect to reach accommodations with those in power just as they might anywhere else.

PROBLEM:  EXTRADITION TREATY

See,

Treaty Between the United States of America and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Signed March 9, 1990, entered into force September 22, 1994.

The fact that the Commonwealth of the Bahamas has an extradition treaty with the United States could make the Bahamas a riskier destination for Trump than some of the non extradition treaty-countries.  Nonetheless, this does not necessarily mean that Trump would be extradited to the U.S. if an extradition request was received by the government.

Under Article 6 of the extradition treaty, extradition may not be granted when the statute of limitations has run in the requesting state:

Article 6

Lapse of Time

Extradition shall not be granted when all prosecution has become barred by lapse of time according to the laws in the Requesting State.

Moreover, under Article 3 of the treaty, extradition may not be granted for a “political offense”. The text of Article 3 is particularly relevant to Donald Trump and his collaborators:

Article 3

Political and Military Offenses

(1} Extradition shall not be granted when:

(a) the offense for which extradition is requested is an offense of a political character;

(b) the executive authority of the Requested State determines that the request was made for the primary purpose of prosecuting or punishing the person for an offense of a political character; or

(c) the executive authority of the Requested State determines that the request was politically or racially motivated.

In view of the provisions contained in Articles 3 and 6 of the treaty, and the obvious advantages of fleeing to The Bahamas, Trump and his collaborators should put the  Bahamas at or near the top of the list of countries they are considering for relocation.

Particularly in view of Trump’s well-known abilities to reach accommodation with those in power, the mere fact that the U.S. has an extradition treaty with the Bahamas should not deter him from considering this possibility.

An interesting precedent to bear in mind is the case of Robert Vesco, a fugitive financier who the U.S. sought to extradite from Costa Rica in 1974 uder the terms of its extradition treaty with that country.  Vesco reportedly made an investment of $1,000,000 in the farm of the president of Costa Rica, José Figueres.  Somehow, the courts of Costa Rica, relying on arcane technical grounds, never did authorize Vesco’s extradition.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

The Observer
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by The Observer, an international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, The Observer has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. The Observer speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, The Observer has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on the best articles that have appeared in the blog.

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