« PreviousContinue »
tively, for civilian detention and prisoner-of-war benefits. There is incorporated in the measure, however, certain modifications which the War Claims Commission has previously recommended in connection with related bills. A new provision is included which would exclude from eligibility, persons who not only voluntarily collaborated with the enemy forces, but did so knowingly. This provision was designed to meet a situation believed to be unique with respect to Korean hostilities and the treatment of prisoners. It is respectfully suggested that the Department of Defense may wish to comment on this provision as it relates to prisoners of war. It will be found on page 2, line 4 of the bill, and again on page 5, lines 16 through 19. Payment of the benefits provided for in H. R. 9094 would be made from appropriated funds and not from the war claims fund.
Section 1 of the bill would add a new subsection (g) to section 5 of the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended. Eligible claimants would be civilian American citizens who enjoyed that status at the time of capture on or after June 25, 1950, by any hostile force with which the Armed Forces of the United States were actually engaged in armed conflict. Included among the eligible claimants would be persons forced to go into hiding to avoid such capture or internment, as under present law. Persons who voluntarily and knowingly aided or collaborated with the enemy, and persons within the purview of the Federal Employees' Compensation Act, the Missing Persons Act of March 7, 1942, as amended, or the act of December 2, 1942, which authorized certain injury, disability, detention, and death benefits to employees of contractors with the United States would not be eligible for benefits. Members of the Armed Forces of the United States also are expressly excluded from sharing in the civilian detention benefits authorized under the bill. All of these exclusions are found in existing law governing payment of similar claims and are designed to avoid the pyramiding of benefits to civilians under similar statutes.
Proposed new subsection (g) (2) provides that the compensable period of detention must fall within the period subsequent to June 25, 1950, and prior to the enactment of the amendment. Similar proposals currently pending before the Congress have no closing date for the overall period within which detention shall have occurred. Proposed subsection (g) (3) authorizes a rate of payment identical with that found in the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended, namely $60 for each calendar month during which such person was at least 18 years of age and $25 for each calendar month during which the claimant was less than 18 years of age. Provision is made in proposed subsection (g) (4) for payment to specified survivors only, as under the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended. Proposed subsections (g), (5) (g) (6) and (g) (7) relate, respectively, to the method of payment, require claims to be filed within 6 months from the date of enactment of the amendment, and authorize appropriations for payment of the benefits provided for.
Section 2 of the bill would add a new subsection (e) to section 6 of the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended. Proposed subsection (e) (1), in defining the term “prisoner of war," adopts the language in section 6 (a) of the present act and applies it to Korean hostilities. The compensatory period, within which claimant must have been a prisoner of war, is the same period required for civilian detention benefits in section 1 of the bill, namely, subsequent to June 25, 1950, and prior to the enactment of the amendment. The only class of war prisoners excluded from these eligible for benefits are members of the Armed Forces "who, at any time, voluntarily and knowingly gave aid to, collaborated with, or in any manner served” the hostile force by which they were captured. To become ineligible, a prisoner of war would have to have furnished aid, or collaborated both voluntarily and knowingly. Again, it is suggested that the Department of Iefense may wish to comment on this provision of the bill.
Proposed new subsections (e) (2), (e) (3), and (e) (4) provide for the types of claims that may be filed. The language used follows closely the language of the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended, with respect to World War II prisoner benefits. The chief difference between the bill and the act in this respect, is found on page 6, lines 12 through 23. The War Claims Act of 1948, as amended, as well as current pending bills dealing with the subject of Korean war prisoner benefits, refer to "violations” by the hostile force of the terms of the Geneva Convention of July 27, 1929. In its previous reports on this legislation, the War Claims Commission has suggested that neither the Government of North Korean or Communist China were parties to this convention, and, technically, could not be said to have violated its terms. The Commission recommended that insofar as the Geneva Convention furnished a guide for the measurement of proper treatment for war prisoners, the provi.
sions of that convention should be used in determining whether inadequate food or other inhumane treatment constitute the grounds for a compensable claim by any civilian internee or prisoner oť war in Korea. The question of whether the hostile force had violated the terms of the convention is thus eliminated. The per diem rates of payment provided in the bill as under the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended, are $1 for each day the claimant received inadequate food, and $1.50 for each day of enforced uncompensated labor or other inhumane treatment measured by the requirements of the Geneva Convention.
In making provision for payments in case of the death of the person entitled thereto, the bill requires payment "in the manner provided in paragraph 4 of subsection (d) of section 6' of the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended. In other words, such awards would be made to (1) the widow or dependent husband if there is no child or children of the deceased, (2) the widow or dependent husband and child or children of the deceased, one-half to the surviving spouse and one-half to the surviving children in equal shares, (3) the child or children in equal shares if there is no surviving spouse and finally, (4) the surviving parent or parents in equal shares if there are no eligible survivors in categories (1), (2), or (3) above.
The time for filing claims authorized in the bill would expire 6 months from the date of enactment of new subsection 6 (e). The War Claims Commission is required, however, by the bill to complete adjudication of such claims “at the earliest practicable date but in no event later than 1 year after the expiration of the time for filing such claims."
Finally, the bill requires payment of Korean war prisoner claims from appro priated funds, authorizes such appropriations, and requires the Commission, from time to time, to determine the share of its administrative expenses attributable to the performance of its functions under the proposed new subsection (e) of section 6. The Commission would make appropriate adjustments in its accounts, and its determinations and adjustment would be final under the bill.
The views of the War Claims Commission with respect to H. R. 9094 are as follows:
1. The extension of per diem detention and war prisoner benefits to American victims of internment or imprisonment in Korea, comparable to benefits paid to civilian internees and war prisoners in World War II, conforms to the recommendation of the executive branch as stated by President Eisenhower in his message to the Congress of April 29, 1954 transmitting Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1954, relating to the establishment of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission. In his message, the President said :
"A proposed new claims program now pending before the Senate would provide benefits similar to those paid to World War II victims under the War Claims Act for losses and internments resulting from hostilities in Korea. The executive branch of the Government has recommended approval of this program by the Congress."
2. The War Claims Commission believes that H. R. 9094, in its present form is an improvement over pending bills of a similar nature. It makes no radical departures from the provisions of the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended, except as to the source from which payment of the claims would be made.
3. While the question of financing H. R. 9094 with appropriated funds is a matter of legislative policy, we have been advised by the Bureau of the Budget that it favors this method of funding. It should be pointed out, that the use of the war claims fund, as an alternative, would require additional transfers to that fund as provided for in section 13 of the act. The Commission is not in position to say whether such transfers can, or should be made at the present time. At the close of the present fiscal year the balance in the war claims fund is expected to amount to approximately $42,800,000. Payment of death and disability claims under section 4 and 5 (f) of the act, and payment of additional amounts on appeals of other claims pending before the Commission, will have virtually wiped out this balance by the end of fiscal 1955. Moreover, since the war claims fund is derived from the liquidation of German and Japanese prop erties, it may be well to consider whether such proceeds may properly be employed for payment of claims not attributable to hostilities with these two countries.
4. With respect to the estimated cost of the proposal, the following informal information received by the Commission from its liaison office with the Department of the Army is pertinent: A total of 8,818 members of the Armed Forces were originally reported as "missing in action.” Of this total, a determination of death was made in the case of approximately 7,000 individuals, by the Department of Defense under the Missing Persons Act. Of these 7,000 approxi
mately 50 percent or 3,500 were determined to have died while in the hands of opposing forces. It has been ascertained that virtually all deceased prisoners would have at least one survivor eligible to assert a claim authorized in the subject bill.
In addition, the Department of Defense has listed 4,953 members of the Armed Forces as having been captured or interned in Korean hostilities. Accordingly, the potential claim load under section 2 of the bill, is approximately 8,500 eligible claimants. The average number of prisoner-of-war days per prisoner is estimated at 556 making a total of 4,723,000 compensable days at $2.50 per day. The cost of paying prisoner-or-war claims authorized by the bill is estimated, therefore, at $11,817,500. This figure is subject, however, to minor fluctuation as redeterminations are currently made with respect to personnel carried as “missing in action.” Attention is invited in this respect to the fact that the projected figures set out are, due to such fluctuation, in some measure greater in proportion than those stated in the Commission's report dated February 19, 1954, on S. 2224.
5. The War Claims Commission has been informally advised by the Department of State that 13 American civilians were captured and held by hostile forces in Korea and that only 7 of them were returned through the good offices of the Soviet Union in April 1953. According to such information none of them were able to comply with warnings to leave. In other words they were in the same position as Americans trapped and interned in the Pacific theater of war in World War II. Their period of internment, in North Korea, might have been 33 months as a maximum. All of them were adults. At the monthly benefit rates of $60 provided for in the bill, and if each of the returned victims is eligible for a 33-month detention period, the cost of paying such benefits to the 7 who returned would probably not exceed $13,860. Adding the claims of any American civilian internee who may have escaped internment and return through his own efforts, and the claims of any eligible survivors of deceased internees, the total cost of civilian internee benefits might be increased to approximately $30,000. There are a number of unknown factors involved in making such an estimate but in any event, considering the small number of potential civilian internee claimants, the total cost of paying the benefits provided for in the bill should be in the neighborhood of the sums indicated.
6. The War Claims Commission believes that a 6-month period for filing of claims authorized under the bill, with a maximum of 1 year thereafter to complete their adjudication is entirely reasonable. The number of possible claims will not be too numerous to prevent fair and speedy processing and the required proofs will not be of a complicated nature. This provision of the bill is more flexible than similar provisions in other pending bills.
For the foregoing reasons the War Claims Commission recommends favorable consideration by the committee on H. R. 9094, 83d Congress without commenting on the method of financing the measure.
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.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE,
Washington, June 23, 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. 9094) “To extend certain civilian internees and prisoner-of-war benefits under the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended, to civilian internees and American prisoners of war captured and held during the hostilities in Korea."
The bill would amend the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended (50 U. S. C. App. 2001 et seq.) so as to authorize the payment of compensation to members of the United States Armed Forces who were captured by hostile forces in Korea and to American civilians who were captured by such hostile forces or who went into hiding to avoid capture. The compensation would be at the same rate as that paid under the War Claims Act to Amreican Armed Forces personnel and American civilians who were captured or went into hiding during World War II.
Compensation to World War II claimants under the War Claims Act is paid from the war claims fund which consists of German and Japanese assets vested under the Trading With the Enemy Act during the World War II vesting program. Compensation under the bill would be financed by appropriations froin the Treasury and would not in any way affect the war claims fund.
Since the provisions of the bill would not affect the operations of the Department of Justice the question of whether it should be enacted is one on which this Department prefers to make no recommendation.
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.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, June 14, 1954. Hon. CHARLES A. WOLVERTON, Chairman, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce,
House of Representatives. DEAR MR. WOLVERTON : Further reference is made to your letter of May 15, 1954, transmitting for the Department's comments a copy of H, R. 9094, a bill to extend certain civilian internee and prisoner of war benefits under the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended, to civilian internees and American prisoners of war captured and held during the hostilities in Korea.
The proposed legislation would amend the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended, by extending the authority of the War Claims Commission to receive, determine, and provide for the payment of certain claims of civilian American citizens and prisoners of war as a result of their participation in hostilities in Korea.
The term "civilian American citizen” is defined in the bill to mean "any person who, being then a citizen of the United States, was captured on or after June 25, 1950, by any hostile force with which the Armed Forces of the United States was actually engaged in armed conflict, or who was forced to go into hiding in order to avoid capture or internment by any such hostile force; except (A) a person who at any time voluntarily and knowingly gave aid to, collaborated with, or in any manner served any such hostile force, or (B) a person who at the time of his capture or entrance into hiding was (i) a person within the purview of the Federal Employees' Compensation Act, or (ii) a person within the purview of the Missing Persons Act of March 7, 1942, as amended, or (iii) a regularly appointed, enrolled, enlisted, or inducted member of the Armed Forces of the United States, or (iv) a person within the purview of the act entitled 'An act to provide benefits for the injury, disability, death, or enemy detention of employees of contractors with the United States, and for other purposes,' approved December 2, 1942, as amended.” The proposed ineasure would authorize the payment of detention benefits to any civilian American citizen for any period of time subsequent to June 25, 1950, and prior to the enactment of this amendment, during which he was held by any hostile force or forces as a prisoner, internee, hostage, or in any other capacity, or remuined in hiding to avoid being captured or interned by such hostile force or forces. The detention benefits allowed under the bill would be at the rate of $60 for each calendar month during which such person was at least 18 years of age and at the rate of $25 per month for each calendar month during which such person was less than 18 years of age. Such benefits would be paid to the person entitled thereto, or, in the event of his death or if under any legal disability, to certain other beneficiaries mentioned in the bill.
The term “prisoner of war” is defined in the bill to mean 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 period of time subsequent to June 25, 1950, by any hostile force with which the Armed Forces of the United States has actually engaged in armed conflict subsequent to such date and prior to the enactment of this amendment, except any such member who at any time voluntarily and knowingly gave aid to, collaborated with, or in any manner served such hostile force. The prisoner of war claims comprehended under the proposed measure are: (1) for the failure of such hostile force by which he was held a prisoner of war, or its agents, to furnish him the quantity or quality of food prescribed under the terms of the Geneva Convention of July 27, 1929, (2) for the failure of such hostile force by which he was held as a prisoner of war, or its agents, to meet the conditions and requirements prescribed under title III, section III, of the Geneva Convention of July 27, 1929, relating to labor of prisoners of war, or (3) for inhumane treatment by such hostile force by which he was held, or its agents. The term "inhumane treatment” as used herein shall include, but not be limited to, failure of such hostile force, or its agents, to meet the conditions and requirements of one or more of the provisions of articles 2, 3, 7, 10, 12, 13, 21, 22, 54, 56, or 57, of the Geneva Convention of July 27, 1929.
It is further proposed to allow compensation to a prisoner of war at the rate of $1 a day for each day he was held a prisoner of war on which such hostile force or its agents failed to furnish him the quantity or quality of food prescribed under the terms of the Geneva Convention; and also at the rate of $2.50 a day for each day he was held a prisoner of war, providing he establishes in a manner acceptable to the War Claims Commission the above-mentioned violations of the Geneva Convention relating to labor and treatment of prisoners of war. Claims of this kind would be paid to the persons entitled thereto, and in case of death of the person so entitled, to or for the benefit of certain other beneficiaries specified in pargaraph (4) of subsection (d) of section 6 of the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended. Where any person entitled to payment is under any legal disability, it is proposed that payment be made in the manner provided under subsection (e) of section 5 of that Act.
Under H. R. 9094, both the claims of civilian American citizens for detention benefits and claims of prisoners of war for compensation are required to be filed with the War Claims Commission within 6 months from the date of enactment of this amendment, and the Commission is to complete its adjudication of any such claim at the earliest practicable date but in no event later than 1 year after the expiration of the time for filing such claim.
To carry out the purposes of H. R. 9094, the proposed measure would also authorize to be appropriated such amounts as may be necessary, including the necessary administrative expenses.
It is the view of the Department that the question whether civilian American citizens and prisoners of war, as defined in the proposed legislation, should be accorded the benefits comprehended in H. R. 9094 is one of legislative policy for determination by the Congress. The Department is not in possession of sufficient information to enable it to express an opinion respecting the necessity or desirability at this time of dealing with claims arising out of the Korean conflict. In the event, however, of the enactment of the proposed bill, the Department would not be opposed to the payment of such claims from moneys appropriated out of general funds in the Treasury on the same basis as similar claims are presently authorized to be paid under the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended.
The Department has been informed by the Bureau of the Budget that there is no objection to the submission of this report. Sincerely yours,
THRUSTON B. MORTON,
Assistant Secretary (For the Secretary of State).
EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT,
BUREAU OF THE BUDGET,
Washington, D. C., June 8, 1954. Hon. CHARLES A. WOLVERTON, Chairman, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce,
1334 House Office Building, Washington, D.C. MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This is in reply to your letter of May 15, 1954, requesting the views of this office with respect to H. R. 9094, a bill to extend certain civilian internee and prisoner of war benefits under the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended, to civilian internees and American prisoners of war captured and held during the hostilities in Korea.
The purpose of the bill is as indicated in its title. It would provide civilian internee and prisoner of war benefits with respect to hostilities in Korea, comparable to those presently authorized for similar prisoners detained during World War II.
As you know, we have supported several bills with a purpose similar to the present one subject to their amendment in the manner recommended by the War Claims Commission in reports to your committee in which we concurred. H. R. 9094 represents a redraft of those earlier bills designed to incorporate the recommended amendments. Accordingly, the Bureau of the Budget recommends that your committee give it favorable consideration. Sincerely yours,
PERCIVAL F. BRUNDAGE,