May 9, 2012
Sao Paulo, Brazil
When most people think of Brazil, it’s the incredible beaches that come to mind. Or the crazy parties of Carnival. Or the spectacular vistas and great weather. Or how indescribably gorgeous (and welcoming) the locals are.
But here’s a little known fact, and it’s something that sets Brazil apart from most other places: Brazil’s constitution prohibits the extradition of Brazilian citizens to other countries. This is a rare gem in the world… I’ll explain.
Believe it or not, most countries are happy to sell their citizens down the river to another government. If you have been charged with a crime in another country, or are even simply ‘wanted for questioning’, your home government in all likelihood will comply with the request to round you up and ship you off.
For example, only 7% of all extradition requests that the US government made to the British government between 1 January 2004 and 31 July 2009 were denied. The US government denied ZERO extradition requests from the British government over the same period.
You may also be familiar the ongoing case of Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange, who is wanted in Sweden for “questioning” related to bizarre sex case.
The British government approved Sweden’s extradition request, though Assange has appealed the decision numerous times. He’s lost every appeal so far, and in all likelihood he’ll be on a plane bound for Sweden in the near future.
Assange is an Australian citizen, and his government has completely abandoned him.
You may also remember the more recent case of Kim Dotcom, the German founder of MegaUpload.com who was arrested in New Zealand as part of a US operation to shut down his file-sharing site. Like Assange, the German government has been silent.
This is ironic because most people are brought up to believe that their governments will protect them… that if you get into a jam overseas, they’ll send the military to rescue you.
The reality is that, far more often, governments trade their own citizens away in order to score diplomatic brownie points, even when there’s not even a crime involved.
The US-Mexico extradition treaty, for example, lists a number of extraditable offenses, such as:
– Violations of the customs laws
– Offenses against copyright or intellectual property
– Offenses related to international trade and transfers of funds or valuable metals
– Offenses relating to prohibition “unfair transactions”
We’re not exactly talking about violent criminals here; these rules so opaque that just about everyone on the planet is in violation of some offense.
That’s why Brazil’s Constitutional guarantee is so refreshing. Brazil has a long history of rejecting extradition requests for citizens… and if Assange and Dotcom had thought that far ahead, they’d be sitting on the beach in Rio right now instead of wearing electronic ankle bracelets under house arrest.
Needless to say, this requires obtaining Brazilian citizenship… which, if you’re in a hurry, you can qualify for in just 12-months. More on that in a future letter, I’ve got a plane to catch!