711.60 f 4/3

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Czechoslovakia (Einstein)

No. 130

Sir: The Department has received your despatch No. 394 of March 14, 1923, in reply to its instructions Nos. 71 and 100 of September 5, 1922, and January 4, 1923,5 concerning a proposed naturalization treaty between the United States and Czechoslovakia. It appears [Page 660] that the Czechoslovak Government has expressed a willingness to sign the proposed treaty, with certain modifications. The principal modification suggested relates to the change in the nationality laws of the United States effected by the married women’s citizenship act of September 22, 1922, under which alien women no longer acquire American nationality by marriage to American nationals nor by the naturalization of their husbands as American nationals, and American women no longer lose their American nationality by marrying aliens provided the latter are eligible to naturalization in this country.

The second change suggested relates to the question of the liability of a naturalized citizen to punishment for an offense committed against his country of origin prior to emigration. In the draft submitted by the Department, Article II read as follows:

“Article II. Nationals of either country, who come within the purview of Article I, may, upon returning to the country of their former nationality, be tried and punished in accordance with the laws thereof for offenses committed before they emigrated, but not for the act of emigration itself; saving always the limitations established by the laws of the original country or any other remission of liability to punishment.”

It is proposed by the Czechoslovak Government to amend Article II by the substitution for the last clause of a clause reading as follows:

“Except in cases when, according to the laws of the country of origin, the penalty might be abolished owing to the statutes of limitation or for any other reason.”

The Czechoslovak Foreign Minister in his note of February 28, also calls attention to the last paragraph of Article I of the draft treaty in which it is stated that:

“The word ‘national’, as used in this convention, means a person owing permanent allegiance to, or having the nationality of, the United States or Czechoslovakia, respectively, under the laws thereof.”

The Foreign Minister in this relation observes in his note of February 28th, that there are no subjects in Czechoslovakia who are not at the same time citizens, and suggests that it would be desirable to modify this passage or to defer consideration of this Article until the final draft.

In view of the change made by the Act of Congress of September 22, 1922, in the status of alien women who marry American nationals and of American women who marry aliens eligible to naturalization in this country, the Department agrees that it is desirable to make a change in Article I of the proposed treaty by the insertion of a paragraph reading as follows:

“The word, ‘naturalized’, refers only to the naturalization of persons of full age, upon their own applications, and to the naturalization [Page 661] of minors through the naturalization of their parents. It does not apply to acquisition of nationality by a woman through marriage.”

As to the definition of the word “national” contained in the fourth paragraph of Article I, I may say that the Department sees no necessity for making a change in it. On the other hand, it seems desirable to have a clear understanding as to the meaning of this word in the treaty. The definition as it now stands by no means involves an admission by the Government of Czechoslovakia that there are nationals of Czechoslovakia who are not citizens thereof.

As it is necessary, in view of the married women’s citizenship act, to make a change in Article I of the treaty and as the Czechoslovak Government has suggested other changes, it occurs to the Department that it might be well to submit a new draft of the treaty, and a copy thereof is enclosed herewith.6 This draft is similar in phraseology to drafts which are being submitted to governments of other countries. It has been drawn with a view to making some of the provisions more definite than those contained in the former draft,7 particularly in Article II, which relates to the right of either country to punish its former nationals who have obtained naturalization in the other country, for offenses committed against the former prior to the time when they established their residence in the latter. In the new draft treaties submitted to other countries no statement is made in Article II concerning cases in which there may be a remission of liability to punishment under statutes of limitation or any other provisions in the laws of the country of origin. In formulating the new drafts it was assumed that such remission would be granted as a matter of course. For the sake of uniformity this statement has likewise been omitted from the enclosed draft.

You will please bring this draft to the attention of the appropriate authorities, and suggest its substitution for the original draft. However, if, after you have fully explained the matter, the Czechoslovak authorities state that they prefer to continue negotiations upon the basis of the original draft, you will please inform the Department and the matter will be given further consideration.

In presenting this matter again to the Czechoslovak authorities, you will please express the gratification of this Government that the Government of Czechoslovakia sees its way clear to the conclusion of a naturalization treaty between the two countries. The Department is confident that the conclusion of such a treaty will be mutually beneficial, by preventing controversies in individual cases and will greatly serve to promote free and friendly intercourse between the two countries.

I am [etc.]

Charles E. Hughes
  1. Neither instruction printed.
  2. Not printed; it is almost identical with the treaty signed Nov. 23, 1923, with Bulgaria, Foreign Relations, 1923, vol. i, p. 464.
  3. Not printed.