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Criminal Resource Manual

1617. Extraterritorial Criminal Jurisdiction -- 18 U.S.C. §112, 878, 970, 1116, 1117 And 1201

  1. Murdering, kidnapping, assaulting, or threatening of an internationally protected person (IPP), is prosecutable in a court of the United States, regardless of where the crime occurred, as long as the "alleged offender is present within the United States." See, e.g., 18 U.S.C. §  1116(c) (murder of IPP); § 1201(e)(kidnapping); § 112(e) (assaults, wounds, strikes, imprisons); § 878(d) (threatens). Such extraterritorial jurisdictional provisions are predicated upon the requirements of the U.N. IPP and OAS Treaties to which the United States is a signatory. See H.R. Rep. No. 1614, 98th Cong., 2d Sess. (1976), reprinted in 1976 U.S. Code Cong. and Adm. News 4480, 4482. Under customary international law, the assertion of such jurisdiction is permissible under the "universal" principle which authorizes a state to prosecute certain extraterritorial offenses recognized by the community of nations as of universal concern. See United States v. Yunis, 924 F.2d 1086, 1091 (D.C. Cir. 1991). The Yunis decision also suggests that the jurisdictional element of presence in the United States can be satisfied by the defendant's forcible rendition to the United States. Yunis, 924 F.2d at 1092; see also United States v. Rezaq, 908 F. Supp. 6 (D. D.C. 1995).
  2. While Federal courts have jurisdiction over offenses against internationally protected persons solely upon the basis of the alleged offender's presence within the United States, regardless of the place where the offense was committed, they may exercise jurisdiction over similar offenses involving a foreign official or official guest only if the offense occurred when the victim was in the United States. See, e.g., 18 U.S.C. §  1116(b)(3),(6). As a practical matter, however, most foreign officials will also be entitled to protection as IPPs.
  3. Section 721 of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-132, § 721, 110 Stat. 1214, 1298, amended the various statutes protecting IPPs to make it clear that extraterritorial jurisdiction exists over an offense against an IPP outside the United States whenever (1) the victim IPP is a representative, officer, employee, or agent of the United States Government; or (2) the offender is a national of the United States; or (3) the offender is afterwards "found" in the United States. The effective date for the changes made by section 721 is April 24, 1996.

[cited in USAM 9-65.800]