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U.S. Senate approves Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism

Convention called important tool in war on terror, organized crime

Posted: October 13, 2005

Washington -- The U.S. Senate approved October 7 the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism, which has received the strong support of the Bush administration.

The administration had reaffirmed its firm support for the counterterrorism convention in a letter from Assistant U.S. Attorney General for Legislative Affairs William Moschella urging the Senate to approve the measure. Moschella wrote that the Bush administration "strongly" supported the convention.

U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (Republican of Alabama) said on the Senate floor before the agreement was approved that the convention would provide an important tool "in our war against terrorism and organized crime." Sessions is a member of the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security.

The United States signed the convention in June 2002, but Senate approval was needed before the United States could ratify the Western Hemisphere counterterrorism measure. For the anti-terrorism convention to become officially approved by the United States, the Senate’s ratification must be subsequently signed and registered ("deposited") by President Bush at the Organization of American States (OAS).

The OAS General Assembly adopted the pact in June 2002 in Bridgetown, Barbados.

The organization said the convention is the first international measure against terrorism negotiated after the September 11, 2001, attacks against the United States. The convention provides the legal framework for cooperation among the 34 OAS member states in the fight against terrorism.

The U.S. State Department pledged an additional $1.6 million in February to strengthen and expand counterterrorism coordination in the Western Hemisphere, bringing the total U.S. contribution to $5 million on this issue since the September 11 terrorist attacks. (See the State Department media note.)

According to the State Department report, Country Reports on Terrorism 2004, terrorists in the Western Hemisphere becoming increasingly active in illicit transnational activities, including the drug trade, arms trafficking, money laundering, contraband smuggling and document and currency fraud.

The report said the threat of international terrorism in the Western Hemisphere remained relatively low during 2004, compared to other world regions but added that terrorists might seek safe haven, financing, recruiting, illegal travel documentation, or access to the United States from the hemisphere.

Terrorism was also the subject of a September 2004 State Department electronic journal, The Global War on Terrorist Finance, available on the State Department Web site.

The text of Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism is available on the OAS Web site.

Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer

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