Mr. Rublee to Mr. Fish.
Berne , July 10, 1873. (Received July 31.)
Sir: The Federal Assembly of Switzerland met on Monday, the 7th instant. An unusually large amount of business is submitted by the Federal Council to the consideration of the chambers. The most important subject thus presented is the report of the Federal Council, in compliance with the instructions of the assembly at its session in December last, upon resuming the attempt to revise the constitution of the confederation. The message of the council, and accompanying propositions, modifying, to some extent, the projects of revision rejected by the popular vote in 1872, will probably be postponed and become the occasion of a special session, to be held some time during the coming autumn.
Under the new law of the last session vesting the right of legislation in regard to railways exclusively in the federal legislature, thirty different bills, mostly for concessions for new lines of railways, are presented, and among the motions set down on the official list is one in regard to federal legislation in ecclesiastical matters, and proposing the dismissal of the papal mentiature in Switzerland.
I forward by the same mail with this dispatch, but in a separate inclosure, two copies, one in French and one in German, of the recently published reports of the several heads of departments of the Swiss government for the year 1872, together with two copies in French of the report of the committee of the national council thereupon.
By reference to pages 15 and 16 of the latter document, it will be seen that the committee of the national council recommended that theFederal Council be invited to denounce so much of the treaty of November 30, 1850, between the United States and Switzerland, as relates to extradition, unless the Government of the former shall formally declare that it will carry out the provisions of the treaty in such a manner that the object in view shall be really attained.
This part of the report of the committee came up for consideration in the national council on yesterday, when Federal Councillor Knüsel, chief of the department of justice and police, suggested that the proposition should be rejected.
He said that it was certainly more difficult in America to secure extradition in cases of fraud than in other cases, but this was no reason for denouncing the treaty. He explained that in the United States the proceedings upon a demand for extradition were of a judicial nature, and that before the alleged criminal was surrendered certain evidence going [Page 1089] to establish his guilt must be produced. It did not appear that any other country except Switzerland desired a change of the system of extradition adopted by the United States. The latter had not such a regard for Switzerland that it would change its system merely to please us. Wherefore, then, denounce the treaty of friendship made in 1850? This would be going too far, and would produce an evil impression in America. Moreover, he added, the United States were not altogether pleased at present with us, in view of the fact that while they had a minister here we were represented simply by a consul at Washington. The proposition of the committee had, therefore, better be dropped.
It was thereupon tabled by unanimous consent.
I have, &c.,