Friday, October 25, 2013


THE LAW OF PERSONS: To read the entire series so far in order of occurrence click here:

American Admiralty Books Safety & Privacy Policies   EU VISITORS WARNING POSSIBLE COOKIES AHEAD

File:Berner Iustitia.jpg THE LAW OF PERSONS
 As illustrated by the example of the fugitive, one of the basic principles of sovereignty is its jurisdiction over persons. Naval and maritime industry personnel often spend a great deal of time in foreign ports and territories. By international law a state, by virtue of its sovereignty, has exclusive jurisdiction over all persons within its boundaries. This jurisdiction is absolute over merchant mariners but may be modified in various ways relative to naval and diplomatic corps personnel. The modification of this jurisdiction is referred to as immunity.  The immunity of the diplomatic officer is generally total while the immunity of the naval personnel is limited and varies from state to state based on treaty, convention, provisions, and status of forces agreements.

  The jurisdiction of a sovereign over all persons within its territory can sometimes come into conflict with the authority of the state to which a resident or visiting alien owes allegiance. For example, a U.S. shipping company employee, who is a U.S. citizen, working in a foreign branch office is subject to the jurisdiction of the host state based on his or her physical location within the host state. The same employee is personally subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. as a citizen of the U.S., this employee is subject to all U.S. law applicable to his or her person such as tax codes, the draft, and responsibility for crimes or torts committed in the U.S. at the same time this individual is also subject to all of the domestic laws of the host state that do not specifically exclude application to aliens.

 The same U.S. employee is subject to the court system of the host state for all causes of action, both civil and criminal, that he may become party to. On the other hand, as a non-citizen, the civil jurisdiction of the host state either may not be available to him or may be effective for certain purposes such as divorce. On the opposite end of the marriage regime an American stationed working, or visiting abroad may be able to contract a marriage in the host state. However, the entry of the new spouse into the U.S. is wholly dependent on U.S. immigration law.

 Coast Guardsmen involved in the suppression of the illegal drug trade occasionally have an interest in extradition. Extradition is the surrender of a suspected criminal by one state to another. The United States and most English speaking nations, especially Commonwealth members view crimes as territorial and punishable only where committed. Latin countries have a less uniform view on this matter. In all cases, extradition is a matter governed by treaty or convention.

 Without a treaty or convention obligation, there is no duty for a state to surrender a fugitive to another state for trial. The United States is signatory to the Montevideo Convention of 1933, a multilateral treaty that includes many Latin American States. Unfortunately, under this convention, extraditionary practice is not uniform. A number of countries including the United States too reservations to the convention whereby the surrender of nationals of the surrendering state is optional. These exceptions generally have not been to the advantage of the United States in cases relating to anti-drug smuggling enforcement.

 For an offense to be extraditable under customary international law it must be a felony in both states. Political and strictly military offenses usually are excluded from extradition treaties.

 There are only four exceptions to the sovereignty of the state over persons. These are:

1. Sovereign immunity

2. The absolute immunity of a visiting head of state

3. Diplomatic immunity, and,

4. Where provided by treaty, consular immunity

 The various partial immunities of warship crews do not flow from any of these well-established customs but from a different set of naval customs, treaties, and status of forces agreements. As a result of divergent sources of law, warship crew immunities by comparison; unlike sovereign, diplomatic and consular immunities are not nearly as uniform from state to state.



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