File No. 12344/18–19.

Secretary of Legation Gibson to the Secretary of State.

No. 1.]

Sir: I have the honor to make the following report upon the subject of the extradition of William Adler, William Simmons and John Ripplinger:

On the 5th of November I was informed that Adler had left Puerto Cortes for the United States with the intention of surrendering to the authorities upon his arrival. I so informed the department in my letter of that date.

In compliance with your instructions I immediately inquired in writing whether the Government of Honduras would grant the extraditions [Page 473] in question as a matter of comity and in anticipation of the treaty for which negotiations are pending. The minister for foreign affairs replied verbally that as the offenses for which the extraditions were desired had all been committed over one year ago, he did not feel that they were of the class for which he had promised extradition without reciprocity on the part of the United States. I brought to his attention his letter to the American consul at Tegucigalpa of April 28, 1908, in which he states that pending the conclusion of the treaty the Government of Honduras was prepared to grant extradition without reciprocity:

It being understood that the fugitive or fugitives are not Honduraneans and that the crime is of recent date and of such a serious character that the surrendering of the fugitives from justice is warranted by satisfying a public desire for atonement.

He replied that by the phrase, “of recent date,” he had intended to designate crimes which had been committed within four or five months at most from the time when the extradition was requested and which were still fresh in the public mind.

As I had been instructed merely “to ascertain whether * * * the Honduranean Government will grant the extradition of the following persons to the United States,” I did not feel that I was warranted in pursuing the matter without further instructions. I so advised Minister Dodge, as I have no fund available for cabling the department.

Pending further instructions I discussed the matter at some length with the minister for foreign affairs and finally arrived at the understanding set forth in his letter to me of November 9, of which I inclose a copy and a translation into English which I have prepared. In this the minister remarks that according to the constitution of Honduras, article 10, “The Republic of Honduras is a sacred asylum for all persons taking refuge in her territory,” and article 16 * * *, “Extradition can be granted only in accord with law or treaty for serious crimes.” In recent extraditions fugitives have applied to the supreme court for protection, claiming rightly that they could not be delivered legally, thus creating a conflict between the executive and judicial powers and greatly embarrassing the Government.

Nevertheless, the Government of Honduras, being very desirous of pleasing the department, states that if, in spite of these difficulties, the department will make a formal request for the delivery of these individuals, necessary instructions will be given for their arrest and detention.

The decision of the minister for foreign affairs to grant the desired extraditions under the conditions named was spontaneous upon his part, as I did not consider that I was justified in urging any course of action upon him.

I have, etc.,

Hugh S. Gibson.

The minister of foreign affairs of Honduras to Secretary of Legation Gibson.

Mr. Secretary: I have the honor to acknowledge your note of November 5, in which, in compliance with instructions of your Government, you ask if the [Page 474] Government of Honduras will grant, as an act of comity, the extradition of William Adler, William Simmons, and John Ripplinger, charged with grand larceny in the United States.

Having given the matter the consideration which it deserves, I have the honor to reply to you in conformity with orders from the President that my Government, with the desire of pleasing that of the United States, reiterates in the present case the offer which it made in communication of this office under date of April 28 of the present year regarding the delivery of criminals who had taken refuge in the territory of Honduras. However, I must now state that on the occasion of the delivery of other criminals difficulties were presented to the Government because they, calling attention to article 10 of the constitution, which says: “The Republic of Honduras is a sacred asylum for all persons who take refuge on her territory,” and article 16, which says: “Extradition can be granted only in accord with law or treaties for serious crimes * * *,” have intended to appeal to the supreme court of justice for protection, basing their claim on the fact that there is no extradition treaty between Honduras and the United States they can not be legally delivered. Therefore, if the individuals referred to in your note were arrested they might create a conflict between the judicial and executive powers with greater reason, as there can be no reciprocity on the part of the United States.

Nevertheless, if the Government of your excellency will ask formally for the delivery of the aforesaid parties, my Government will issue the necessary orders for their capture and delivery * * *. I beg to advise that, as regards Mr. Adler, I know that he is not on Honduranean soil, having left on November 3 or 4 from Puerto Cortes for New Orleans. Therefore the offer of my Government is limited to Messrs. Simmons and Ripplinger.

I avail, etc.,

E. Constantino Fiallos.