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Piracy is a notable exception to this rule since the law of nations recognizes this crime as punishable by the authorities of any nation capturing the accused persons and bringing them within the jurisdiction of its courts. Piracy should not be confused with mutiny, which is not an international crime in this sense. § 83.8 Jurisdiction over offenses committed in port or territorial waters. (a) Offenses involving the peace of the port. When an offense is committed aboard a merchant vessel in the port or territorial waters of a nation other than the nation of registry, and when the offense involves the peace of the port, the nation in whose waters the offense is committed has jurisdiction under an accepted principle of international law.
(b) Offenses not involving the peace of the port. When an offense is committed aboard a merchant vessel in the port or territorial waters of a nation other than the nation of registry, but does not involve the peace of the port, such offense is usually left by local governments to be adjusted by officers of the vessel and the diplomatic or consular representatives of the nation of registry. In the case of vessels of the United States, the right to protection against intervention by a foreign government in this class of cases is safeguarded in many areas by a treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation or by a consular convention between the United States and the foreign government concerned. Even where no treaty or convention exists, the local foreign government will usually refrain from intervening in such cases on the basis of comity between nations.
Jurisdiction over offenses committed ashore.
(a) Assumption of jurisdiction. When an offense is committed on board a vessel of the United States while on the high seas (see § 83.7) or in foreign port or territorial waters under the circumstances described in § 83.8(b), a United States consular officer shall assume jurisdiction for the United States Government in every case where local authorities will permit him to do so, either by virtue of treaty arrangements or under comity between nations.
(b) Consular investigation. In any case of misdemeanor or crime involving seamen on board vessels of the United States or American seamen, the consular officer shall investigate the circumstances in a manner appropriate to the situation. He should question witnesses separately and obtain their signatures to their statements as soon after their giving testimony as is possible. When there is apparent conflict in testimony, a witness may be allowed to make a second affidavit to supplement his first statement if that appears desirable.
(c) Consular action on misconduct cases. Consular officers shall discourage insubordination by every practicable means. The master of a vessel has considerable disciplinary power under the statutes to cope with minor misdemeanors of which seamen may be guilty aboard ship. Masters should be assisted in taking authorized disciplinary measures when the evidence to support such action is considered sufficient. The consular officer may make suitable entries in the ship's log as an official record of his recommendations to the master in the premises. Seamen guilty of misconduct should not be discharged unless their acts were caused by cruel treatment, or their presence on board ship would constitute a menace to the discipline of the vessel or endanger its
operation. In discharging such seamen, the consular officer will give the reason therefor on the ship's articles and official log, properly certified by him.
(d) Consular action on criminal cases. When seamen accused of crime come under the jurisdiction of a consular officer, he shall obtain all possible sworn testimony and on the basis of such information take appropriate action. A consular officer has discretionary authority to return a seaman to the United States for trial. If the circumstances demand that the offender be sent to the United States for trial, the consular officer may discharge the seaman and apply to the local authorities for means to secure and detain him while he remains in port. Arrangements for return of witnesses will be made by the Department of Justice at the appropriate time.
(e) Consular action on mutiny cases. Consular officers shall investigate promptly reports of mutinies on vessels of the United States which arrive in their districts and, when necessary, shall take measures, consistent with treaties and usage, to establish order on the vessel and to return the mutineers to the United States for trial. Consular officers have a wide discretion in deciding whether evidence justifies the detention and return to United States for trial of persons charged with mutiny.
(f) Detention of accused aboard ship. The accused shall be placed in the custody of the master who shall take such measures as he deems necessary to detain the seaman. The master will be given certified copies of the affidavits taken in the case to be turned over to the authority taking custody of the accused in the continental United States. (R.S. 4600, as amended; 46 U.S.C. 703)
Financial responsibility of owners or operators of American vessels. By maritime practice, Comptroller General decisions or maritime bargaining agreements, United States owners or operators are held responsible for relief and repatriation of all seamen separated from their vessels at foreign ports for any reason except desertion or shipwreck.
Financial responsibility of United States Government.
By statute, a United States consular officer must furnish or cause to be furnished relief and repatriation to any destitute American seamen, including seamen from documented fishing vessels of the United States. He is responsible in a like manner for shipwrecked or ill or injured American seamen, and is solely responsible for certified deserters who are United States citizens. He has temporary responsibility for the relief of stranded alien seamen signed on abroad and separated from vessels of the United States because of shipwreck, illness or injury, or bankruptcy on the part of the shipowner.
Consular investigation of applicants for relief.
Before granting relief, a consular officer shall satisfy himself that the seaman is entitled to relief under the statutes, martime usages, and Comptroller General decisions.
The question as to whether an American seaman is destitute within the meaning of R.S. 4577 (46 U.S.C. 678) is one for determination in the first instance by the United States consular officer to whom the seaman applies for relief. The consular officer's decision, in the absence of contrary facts, is sufficient. [2 Comp. Gen. 317]
§ 84.5 Shipwrecked seamen.
When seamen from vessels of the United States arrive after shipwreck at a port within a consular district, the consular officer concerned shall make immediate arranagements for their relief. Relief may be afforded without regard to the nationality of the seaman, whether he has status as an American seaman (see § 81.1(j) of this chapter) or whether he has funds in his possession. In addition, American seamen, if they cannot be reshipped, should be provided with passage to the United States or to an intermediate port where employment may be had or passage obtained. Alien seamen shipped at foreign ports are not entitled to transportation to the United States or to the port of shipment. However, an alien seaman may be granted temporary relief until reshipment is possible or until arranagement can be made with representatives of the government of which the alien seaman is a citizen or subject, for his care and transportation or other relief at the expense of that government. If the owners or operators of a shipwrecked vessel assume responsibility for the relief and repatriation of survivors, consular officers should interpose no objection. This assumption of responsibility which is customary, is on a voluntary basis and is in no sense demanded by the Department of State or consular officers. Seamen from shipwrecked yachts are to be granted relief only if destitute in fact, although seamen from fishing and whaling vessels may be furnished relief as outlined above.
(R.S. 4526, as amended; 46 U.S.C. 593) § 84.6 Ill or injured seamen.
(a) Statutory responsibility of Government. The statutes provide that when a seaman becomes ill or is injured in the service of a vessel of the United States and is formally discharged before a consular officer by reason of being incapacitated on account of such injury or illness relief may be furnished the seaman by the consular officer, regardless of the cause of his illness or injury and regardless of whether or not the said seaman may have funds of his own sufficient for his immediate needs. Also relief may be furnished ill or injured seamen from documented fishing vessels even if not signed on shipping articles.
(b) Responsbility of owners under maritime practice. Maritime usage has
placed upon the operator of the vessel the primary responsibility for ill or injured seamen whose disability is not the result of their own misconduct.
(c) Responsibility according to Comptroller General. The Comptroller General, to whom United States consular officers must account for expenditure of Government funds, has placed responsibility for all ill or injured seamen, regardless of the cause of their disability, upon the operators and has indicated that consular officers should not discharge seamen until responsibility for their care and repatriation has been assumed by the master or agent on behalf of operators. The Comptroller General has stated that notwithstanding a sea- & man's discharge from a vessel on account of venereal disease, a duty devolves upon a shipping company to furnish hospitalization, subsistence and repatriation to a seaman then and previously in its employ, and to furnish such reasonable medical care and treament as may be necessary during the return voyage. Under maritime custom and as a matter of public policy, the obligation of the shipping company goes further than a mere contractual relationship with the seaman, and said obligation is not terminated on the discharge of the seaman in a foreign country. [Comp. Gen. A-17383, April 1, 1927]
(d) Effect of failure to discharge before consular officer. If the seaman becomes ill or is injured in the service off a vessel, whether or not through his own fault, but is not discharged before a consular officer, the consular officer is not required by law to furnish relief to the seaman from United States funds unless the said seaman is found destitute within the consular officer's district. If a seaman becomes ill or is injured while a member of the crew of a vessel and is placed in a hospital by the master of the vessel prior to his being discharged before a consular officer, the consular officer is not authorized to pay from Government funds any part of the hospital expenses incurred, either after discharge if later accomplished or prior thereto.
(e) Emergency relief at Government expense. Where conditions are such that United States consular officers cannot procure prompt medical and hospital treatment and subsistence for American seamen at the expense of the master or owner of the vessel upon which the seaman last served, relief may be furnished
at the expense of the Government and payment made therefor from the appropriation for the relief of American seamen. Refusal on the part of a master or owner should be in writing in order that the consular officer may show basis for expenditure of funds.
(f) Liability of shipowner. Consular officers shall report promptly all cases where vessels or owners refuse to assume responsibility for the care and repatriation of seamen in accordance with law. 29 Op. Att. Gen. 54 states:
An American seaman, disabled in the service of the vessel and who was left in a hospital at a foreign port, is entitled to medical expenses incident to a recovery from the injury and transportation back to the United States, and where these expenses are paid out of funds belonging to the United States, after notice to the owners of the vessel that they were liable for the same and demand made for payment, the owners of the vessel may be held liable therefor. (R.S. 4581, as amended; 46 U.S.C. 683)
§ 84.7 Stragglers.
A seaman, who fails to rejoin his vessel but without intent to desert, is termed a "straggler". Responsibility for his maintenance and repatriation remains with the shipowner. [Comp. Gen. A-30607, Mar. 22, 1930]
§ 84.8 Deserters.
(a) Responsibility of the Government. There is no obligation on the owner of a vessel from which an American seaman has deserted while the vessel was at a foreign port to transport the seaman back to the United States, and where such seaman has become destitute while abroad payment from public funds for transportation back to the United States, even though furnished on a vessel of the same company as the vessel on which the seaman originally shipped, may be made under the laws applicable to destitute American seamen. [3 Comp. Gen. 936] (See § 82.19 of this chapter.)
deserted the vessel in a foreign port, unsupported by evidence that the seaman was reported as a deserter to an American consular officer within fortyeight hours and by a certificate of desertion issued by the consular officer in accordance with these regulations in this part, is not sufficient to establish desertion or that the company has been relieved of liability to return the seaman to the United States. [8 Comp. Gen. 194] § 84.9 Relief at Government expense.
(a) Lodging and subsistence. The lodging should be in a healthy locality, removed, if possible, from scenes of temptation and vice. The subsistence should be simple but sufficient. It is usual to contract for the board of seamen.
(b) Clothing. The clothing should be as inexpensive as is consistent with strength and durability. The quantity of clothing furnished should be limited to that necessary adequately to clothe the seaman until his arrival in the United States.
(b) Documentation of deserters. However, the Comptroller General will not recognize desertions unless reported if possible by the master to a consular officer at the port of desertion within forty-eight hours or, where necessary, at the next port of call. The desertion must be certified by the consular officer and all desertions must conform to the definitions given in § 82.19 of this chapter. A copy of the log of a vessel certified by a United States shipping commissioner stating that a seaman had
(c) Medical attendance and medicine. Medical attendance and medicine may be provided in emergency cases. These should be obtained at a hospital, if there is one in the place, unless special instructions to the contrary are given. If private treatment is provided, the voucher must indicate the reasons.
of the United States or to an intermediate port, see paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section.
(c) Repatriation to United States insular or territorial ports. Employment conditions in ports of the territorial and insular possessions of the United States do not ordinarily warrant consular officers in repatriating American seamen to such ports. Consular officers should not, therefore, arrange for the transportation of American seamen to ports of the territorial or insular possessions of the United States, except those of the Panama Canal Zone, unless the seamen reside in those ports or other special circumstances clearly warrant such action.
(d) Repatriation to intermediate ports. In places where opportunities for repatriating seamen seldom occur and employment on board vessels of the United States cannot be obtained, the consular officer may send destitute seamen to an intermediate port. He shall consider the relative cost of keeping the seamen where they are and at the port to which they can be sent, together with the expense of their passage there and the probability that they may obtain employment at that port or a passage home; and he shall adopt the course which may seem best, having a due regard for the interests of the United States and a proper concern for the seamen.
§ 84.11 Necessity for prompt repatria
When a destitute seaman is entitled to repatriation, transportation should be furnished at the earliest possible opportunity, either directly to a United States port or to an intermediate port where he may find employment on a vessel of the United States or passage to the United States. The consular officer is the proper judge as to the vessel on which the seaman should be placed for his return to the United States. A seaman must, if he is able to travel, accept the first offer of repatriation whether as a workaway or otherwise. Refusal to accept passage deprives the seaman of his right to further assistance. § 84.12 Repatriation of seamen without consular authorization.
(a) Authorized expenditures. Whenever distressed or destitute American seamen are transported from foreign ports where there is no United States consular officer, or from points on the high seas, to ports of the United States;
or from such foreign ports or points on the high seas to a port accessible to a United States consular officer for the further relief and repatriation of such seamen, the master or owner of the transporting vessel shall be allowed such compensation as the Secretary of State determines is equitable.
(b) Transportation direct to the United States. Accounts and claims for transporting direct to a port of the United States distressed or destitute seamen picked up at sea or at some foreign port where there is no United States consular officer should be submitted to the Secretary of State for consideration and transmittal to the Comptroller General. Such claims should be accompanied by satisfactory evidence as to the services rendered, the length of time the seamen were on board the transporting vessel, and the arrival of the seamen in the United States.
(c) Transportation to Foreign Service office. When distressed or destitute American seamen picked up at sea or at a foreign port where there is no United States consular officer are transported to a port where there is a consular officer or to a port accessible to his office, the consular officer is authorized to pay the master of the transporting vessel an amount not exceeding 60 cents a day for each seaman. The master may, if he does not consider such compensation adequate, submit his claim direct to the Secretary of State. The claim will receive the administrative consideration of the Secretary of State, and will then be sent to the Comptroller General for settlement.