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or in violation of the provisions of article 2, 3, 7, 10, 12, 13, 21, 22, 54, 56, or 57 of that Convention, relating to adequate rations, enforced labor and/or other inhumane treatment. Finally, the bill authorizes appropriations to the war claims fund, established by section 13 of the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended, such sums as may be necessary to carry out its provisions.
The War Claims Act of 1948, as amended by Public Law 303, 82d Congress, approved April 9, 1952, adding section 6 (d) to the act, provided compensation for members of the Armed Forces of the United States who were detained as prisoners of war in World War II at the rate of $1 per diem on claims for inadequate food rations, and $1.50 on claims for enforced labor and/or other inhumane treatment. H. R. 6923 would, if enacted, authorize similar compensation at comparable rates.
Specifically, the subject bill would provide for the benefits therein described by adding a new section 6A to the present section 6 of the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended. The comments and recommendations of the War Claims Commission with respect to the merits of H. R. 6923 are as follows:
1. The present law with respect to World War II POW's authorizes rates of $1 and $1.50 per diem, respectively, for inadequate rations and inhumane treatment. The subject bill, however, would provide $2.50 per diem for either or both of these conditions. In all probability all Korean prisoners of war will be eligible under both conditions and the net resuts would be the same. However, it would appear desirable that payments to World War II prisoners and Korean war prisoners be made under the same standard. Therefore, in order to remove any doubt on this point, the Commission recommends that the bill be amended to allow compensation on the identical basis as that provided by the present law.
2. The bill makes various references to violations of obligations under the Geneva Convention of 1929. It may be that such is used for the purpose of creating standards merely; that the language itself assumes that the hostile power is bound and that an express finding is unnecessary. However, the former Commission has considered otherwise, and it would be well, it is believed, to eliminate any uncertainty in the terminology of the contemplated statute. It is im able that the North Koreans have made any agreement to be bound by the Geneva Convention of 1929.
The Commission would recommend that the bill be amended so as to provide that the standards contained in the Geneva convention of July 27, 1929, be made the basis of the adjudications. By so doing some uncertainties in interpretation would be removed, particularly with regard to the legal question as to whether the hostile forces involved are legally bound by the Geneva convention of July 27, 1929; substantial saving in administrative expenses and more expeditious handling could be achieved and substantial justice would be done. In connection with the foregoing, the Department of Defense may wish to comment on the application of this section and payments under it to persons who may have collaborated with the hostile force or forces.
Moreover, the bill does not define the period for which the claimant should be compensated. The Commission believes that language comparable to that appearing below be inserted beginning on page 1, line 6, to make subsection of the proposed new section read:
"SEC. 6A. (a) As used in this section, the term “prisoner of war' means any regularly appointed enrolled, enlisted, or inducted member of the Armed Forces of the United States who was held as a prisoner of war for any time subsequent to June 25, 1950, and prior to the enactment of this amendment, by any hostile force with which the Armed Forces of the United States has actually engaged in armed conflict subsequent to such date."
3. It is noted the bill makes no provision for the termination of the period within which the proposed claims may be filed. It is impossible to predict, of course, all that may transpire before peace is finally and firmly established in Korea, yet, the Commission believes it would be better to design the present legislation to meet the presently existing situation, with the thought of further amendment as the situation changes and new facts develop.
The Commission would therefore recommend that the time for filing claims under the bill should expire 6 months after the date of enactment of the bill, and that the final date of the completion of the work of the Commission should be the earliest practicable date, but in no event later than 1 year after expiration of the time for filing claims.
4. It is also noted that on page 2 of the bill, beginning at line 4, reference is made to “violations by the de facto government of the hostile force or foreign country” by which a claimant was held prisoner of war. Presumably this refers to the Governments of North Korea and Communist China but the question arises as to whether either of these enemy governments were, in truth, de facto governments. It is suggested that to constitute a de facto government there must be a formal recognition extended by which a government is so recognized. It is understood that use of the terms “de facto” or “de jure” implies recognition. Neither of them has been recognized for any purpose other than warfare, by the United States. As a rule, nonrecognition of a government is appropriate evidence that it has not attained the degree of control and stability which is a condition of recognition as a de facto government. The committee may, therefore, wish to consider more fully the effect of the language of the bill in this respect. Since the existence of a de facto government under the bill, among other things, will determine the validity of a claim filed pursuant to its provisions. The Commission believes it would be preferable to employ the language of existing law, in this respect, which is found in section 6 (b) of the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended. This refers to violations by an “enemy government” which may be a specific entity but not one that is recognized. The language of the present law reads:
"(b) The Commission is authorized to receive, adjudicate according to law, and provide for the payment of any claim filed by any prisoner of war for compensation for the violation by the enemy government by which he was held as a prisoner of war, or its agents, of its obligations to furnish him the quantity or quality of food * * *"
et cetera. References to violations by an “enemy government” were repeated in the amendment to the act made by Public Law 303, 82d Congress, which authorized payments to prisoners of war:
“(A) for the violations by the enemy government by which he was held a prisoner of war, or its agents, of such government's obligations * * *
" (B) for inhumane treatment by the enemy government by which he was held, or its agents * * *"
5. The language of the bill also varies from the language of existing law with respect to survivor benefits, by excluding dependent husbands from its benefit provisions. The Commission does not regard this as a serious defect. According to informal advice received from the Department of Defense there were no American female prisoners of war taken during the Korean hostilities with the exception of the very remote possibility that a few women nurses may have been so captured. The Department's prisoner-of-war records, the Commission is informed, do not distinguish between male and female war prisoners in Korea. There were no members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard women's auxiliary troops in Korea during hostilities, and hospitals at or near frontlines were not staffed with women nurses. For these reasons the Commission is not concerned with exclusion of dependent husbands from the category of eligible surviving beneficiaries although they were eligible for section six survivor benefits under the original act.
6. A new subsection 6A (e) would be added to the act to authorize general fund appropriations to the “war claim funds” for payment of the Korean claims provided for in the bill. This should obviously read “war claims fund” if the language of the bill is to be retained. On the other hand, in making general funds available as the bill proposes, it is recommended that the following language be substituted for the language now found on page 4 of the bill lines 9 through 11, since depositing these funds in the war claims fund would only result in increased accounting and administrative costs :
“(e) There are hereby authorized to be appropriated such amounts as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this section, including necessary administrative expenses.
“(f) The war claims fund established pursuant to sections 12 and 13 of this act shall not be available for the purposes of this section, including necessary administrative expenses incident to this section.
"(g) The Commission shall determine, from time to time, the share of its administrative expenses attributable to the performance of its functions under this section and under other sections of this act and make the appropriate adjustments in its accounts, and determinations and adjustments made pursuant to this subsection shall be final and conclusive."
Use of this language would require revision of the first sentence of the paragraph in the bill following proposed section 6A (c) (C), on page 3, beginning at line 10, to read as follows:
“Any claim allowed under this section shall be certified to the Secretary of the Treasury for payment, and paid from funds appropriated pursuant to section 6 (A) (e) of this act."
The next sentence in section 6A (c) (C) reads as follows:
"In no event shall the compensation allowed to any prisoner of war under this section exceed the sum of $2.50 with respect to any one day.”
This sentence seems to imply that this is an additional maximum limitation whereas it does not actually alter, in any manner, the amount prescribed by section 6A (c) of the subject bill. It is recommended that it be deleted as superfluous.
Amending the bill in the manner suggested above, would necessarily require a slight change in line 7, page 4, of the bill so as to make "section 5" read "section 6A." Payments under section 5 of the War Claims Act of 1948 are made from the war claims fund, not from appropriations.
7. With respect to the estimated cost of the proposal, the following informal information received by the Commission from the Department of Defense is pertinent: A total of 8,818 members of the Armed Forces are carried as "missing in action,” which figure includes 8,118 in currently missing status, 2 who died as nonbattle casualties, and 696 "returned to military control"; a total of 4,953 members of the armed services listed as “captured or interned,” which includes 120 currently captured or interned, 597 who died in a prisoner-of-war camp, and 4,236 "returned to military control"; the average number of prisoner-of-war days per prisoner is 638; and the total prisoner-of-war days is 3,160,000. Based upon the foregoing figures, the maximum estimated cost of the provisions of the subject bill would appear to be approximately $7,900,000.
For the foregoing reasons, the War Claims Commission recommends favorable consideration by the committee of H. R. 6923, 83d Congress, with modifications as suggested above.
Informal advice has been received from the Bureau of the Budget that there would be no objection to the presentation of this report to your committee. Sincerely yours,
WHITNEY GILLILLAND, Chairman, War Claims Commission.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE,
Washington, May 13, 1954.
House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This is in response to your request for the views of the Department of Justice relative to the bill (H. R. 6923)to extend certain benefits of the War Claims Act of 1948 to Korean prisoners of war.
The bill would add a new section 6A to the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended (50 U. S. C. App. 2001 et seq.), for the purpose of authorizing the payment of compensation to members of the United States military and naval forces who were captured by hostile forces in Korea. The benefits under this bill would be similar to those paid to military and naval personnel captured by enemy forces during World War II. Compensation would be paid at the rate of $2.50 for each day a prisoner of war underwent forced uncompensated labor, suffered inhumane treatment, or received substandard food contrary to provisions of the Geneva Convention of 1929. No more than $2.50 could be paid to one prisoner of war with respect to any one day. In the event of the death of a person entitled to compensation, payment would be made to or for the benefit of certain specified survivors.
The bill directs that claims allowed under its provisions should be paid out of the war claims fund and by subsection (e) authorizes “to be appropriated to the war claims fund established by section 13 of this act such sums as may be necessary to carry out this section [6A].” The war claims fund at present consists of the net proceeds of German and Japanese property vested during and after World War II under the Trading With the Enemy Act, as amended, and not subject to return under that act.
Whether the claims and benefits provided by the bill should be authorized involve questions of policy on which the Department of Justice prefers to make no recommendation. However, it is noted that although the bill would authorize
the payment of benefits thereunder from specially appropriated funds it does not specifically provide for the payment of administrative expenses. If the bill is to be given favorable consideration it should be amended so as to make certain that not only the benefits payable to claimants thereunder would be financed by appropriated funds rather than from vested German and Japanese assets, but also that the portion of administrative expenses of the War Claims Commission attributable to the performance of its functions in carrying out the provisions of the bill would be financed in the same manner.
The Bureau of the Budget has advised that there is no objection to the submission of this report. Sincerely,
WILLIAM P. ROGERS, Deputy Attorney General.
EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT,
BUREAU OF THE BUDGET,
Washington 25, D. C., April 19, 1954. Hon. CHARLES A. WOLVERTON, Chairman, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce,
House of Representatives, Washington 25, D.C. MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This is in reply to your letter of January 8, 1954, requesting the views of this office with respect to H. R. 6923, a bill to extend certain benefits of the War Claims Act of 1948 to Korean prisoners of war.
The purpose of this bill is as indicated in its title.
In its report to your committee on this bill, the War Claims Commission is recommending its enactment, subject to certain suggested modifications. If amended in accordance with these suggestions, the Bureau of the Budget would recommend favorable consideration of H. R. 6923. Sincerely yours,
PAUL L. MORRISON,
Washington 25, D. C., January 20, 1954. Hon. CHARLES A. WOLVERTON, Chairman, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: Reference is made to your request for the views of this Department on H. R. 6923, to extend certain benefits of the War Claims Act of 1948 to Korean prisoners of war.
The proposed bill would authorize the War Claims Commission to pay to members of the military or naval forces of the United States who have been prisoners of war in the Korean hostilities compensation for (1) forced labor performed by the prisoner for the hostile force; (2) inhumane treatment to which the prisoner was subjected by the enemy government; and (3) failure by the enemy government to furnish the quality and quantity of food to which the prisoner was entitled under the Geneva Convention. Compensation under the bill would be limited to $2.50 for each day the member was held a prisoner. The Department has no comments to make with respect to the bill. Very truly yours,
ELBERT P. TUTTLE, General Counsel.
Washington 25, D. C., March 1, 1954.
House of Representatives, Washington 25, D.C. DEAR MR. WOLVERTON : Further reference is made to your letter of January 8, 1954, requesting a report by the Veterans' Administration relative to II. R. 6923, 83d Congress, a bill to extend certain benefits of the War Claims Act of 1948 to Korean prisoners of war.
The bill proposes to authorize the War Claims Commission to receive, adjudicate, and provide for the payment of claims for compensation filed by a prisoner of war, as therein defined, for violations by the de facto government of the hostile force or foreign country by which he was held as a prisoner of war, or its agents, of such government's obligations under the Geneva Convention of July 27, 1929, relating to labor of prisoners of war, inhumane treatment, or the furnishing of food. The bill would accomplish this by adding a new section 6A to the War Claims Act of 1948 (62 Stat. 1240), as amended (50 U. S. C. App. 2001, et seq.). Under this section, a prisoner of war is defined as any regularly appointed, enrolled, enlisted, or inducted member the military or naval forces of the United States who, as a result of participation in hostilities in Korea, was, for any period of time subsequent to June 27, 1950, in the hands of a hostile force or interned in a foreign country. Compensation would be at the rate of $2.50 for each day the prisoner of war was subjected to any of the foregoing violations, and payment thereof would be made from the War Claims Fund established by section 13 of the War Claims Act. Provision is also made for payment to or for the benefit of certain enumerated survivors, in the event the person entitled is deceased.
It is noted that H. R. 6923 is similar in purpose to H. R. 1659 and H. R. 4117, 82d Congress, and H. R. 9263, 81st Congress, in that all of the mentioned bills are designed to provide certain monetary benfits to persons who were taken prisoner incident to the Korean hostilities. All of the earlier bills were pending before your committee at the close of the respective Congresses, and the Veterans' Administration was not requested by the committee to furnish a report on any of them.
The bill, if enacted, would be administered by the War Claims Commission and not by the Veterans Administration. Your committee will undoubtedly secure a report from the War Claims Commission which will contain detailed information relative to the provisions and effect of the proposed legislation. Accordingly, no comment on the merits of the proposal by the Veterans' Administratin is believed indicated.
Advice has been received from the Bureau of the Budget that there would be no objection to the submission of this report to your committee. Sincerely yours,
H. V. HIGLEY, Administrator.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, D. C., June 4, 1954. The Honorable CHARLES A. WOLVERTON, Chairman, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce,
House of Representatives. DEAR MR. WOLVERTON Reference is made to your letter of May 29, 1954, relating to hearings to be held by the subcommittee of the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce at 10 o'clock each day June 7 through June 11 to consider certain bills relating to war claims.
The Department does not desire to have any witnesses appear before the committee on these bills unless the committee so requests, but it does wish to emphasize again the position it has taken in the past as reflected in the reports which it submitted to your committee on several of these bills.
With regard to the group of bills dealing with benefits for persons taken prisoners of war in the Korean conflict, the Department's position is stated as follows in its report of May 13, 1954 on H. R. 8076 :
“The Department does not believe that any funds realized from the liquidation of German or Japanese assets seized during World War II should be made available for the payment of claims arising out of the Korean conflict, which are, of course, not claims against Germany or Japan. It would not be opposed, however, to the payment of such claims from moneys appropriated out of the general funds in the Treasury, on the same basis as similar claims are presently authorized to be paid under the War Claims Act, as amended."
In the reports submitted by the Department under date of September 30, 1953, on H. R. 3298 and on H. R. 2456 it was recommended that consideration of these bills be deferred until the entire problem of war claims was presented for consideration by the supplementary report of the War Claims Commission. A similar position was taken in the report of September 30, 1953, on H. R. 6407.
The report of July 28, 1953, on H. R. 4422 and the report of July 29, 1953, on S. 541 stated the Department perceived no justification for payment of detention benefits to persons who had already received pay from this Government for the same period of interment.