Lessons for Thaksin from deposed leaders

By Jesus F. Llanto, abs-cbnNEWS.com, Newsbreak

Posted at Nov 11 2008 09:07 AM | Updated as of Nov 11 2008 05:07 PM

After the government of United Kingdom cancelled the visas of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife, Pojaman, the media have been reporting on where the couple might set up home next.

Reports have been saying that the couple might decide to settle in China, Bolivia, African states and even in the Philippines. The Department of Foreign Affairs, however, said that the Philippines has not received an asylum application from the former prime minister.

Thaksin, however, may found it hard to seek political asylum because of global treaties that makes it harder for corrupt leaders facing charges in their home countries to find states that would accommodate them as political exiles.  Among these treaties are the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which contains provisions on extradition, transfer of sentenced persons and recovery of stolen assets.

Thaksin has been on self-imposed exile in Britain since he was ousted from power by a military coup in 2006. He was found guilty of corruption and was sentenced to two years in prison for violating rules on conflict of interest. His wife, meanwhile, is found guilty of tax evasion.

Latest reports have been saying that Thaksin is traveling across Asia and—just like other high-ranking officials facing charges in their own countries—may seek political asylum in other countries.

Other leaders, too

In recent years, some leaders and high ranking government officials accused of wrongdoings in their countries have been extradited or deported to their home countries to face charges filed against them.

Based on news reports and our research, Abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak made a list of some of the well-known cases of foreign leaders and government officials who have been sent to their home countries or placed under the custody of international courts to face the charges against them. Among these leaders and government officials were as follow:

Alberto Fujimori, Peru
Fujimori was elected for a third term in 2000, amid allegations of vote rigging. A bribery scandal involving former intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesino forced him to flee to Japan and go on an imposed self-exile for five years.

In November 2005, he went to Chile, where he was arrested by Peruvian authorities. He is facing charges of death squad killings of 25 people, illegal wiretapping charges, illegal detention of a journalists and businessman, corruption. The Chilean Supreme Court approved Peru’s request for extradition.

Radovan Karadzic, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Karadzic declared himself as the head of state of the independent Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992. He is facing charges of genocide at the International Court of Justice in the Hague in connection with the massacre of 8,000 Muslims in 1995.  He was removed from power in 1995. He was arrested in Serbia and was extradited last July to the Hague.

Alfonso Portillo, Guatemala
Portillo was president of Guatemala from 2000 to 2004. He is facing corruption charges for the disappearance of $15 million fund for his country’s defense department. Portillo fled to Mexico when he lost his immunity from prosecution when his term ended.  The Mexican Supreme Court ruled on October 2008 that he should be extradited to Guatemala.

Boris Sustar, Slovenia
A former deputy economics minister, Sustar was convicted of receiving kickbacks from companies in exchange for assisting them in getting loans from the economics ministry. He fled the country before he was convicted but he was arrested in Canada in 2007. Bustar was turned over to Slovenian authorities.

Charles Taylor, Liberia

Taylor rose to power in 1997 after the end of civil war in Liberia. On March 7, 2003, the Special Court for Sierra Leone charged him with crimes against humanity. Three months later, the a United Nations justice tribunal issued a warrant of arrest against Taylor. The UN said the Liberian leader founded and supported Sierra Leone rebels, who are accused of using child soldiers.

Taylor resigned on August 2003, following calls for him to step down from power. He then went to Nigeria, whose government had offered him a safe exile. Three years later, the Liberian government requested for Taylor’s extradition. The Nigerian government released Taylor to appear on the Sierra Leone court but not to extradite him to Liberia.

Taylor disappeared from his house in Nigeria but was arrested while he was trying to cross the border of Cameroon. He was then brought to UN custody.