« PreviousContinue »
The Government notification of the Blockade as published in the London Gazette of March 19th, 1897, is a somewhat curious document. It is dated from the Foreign Office, and runs as follows :“It is hereby notified that the Admirals in command of “the British, Austro-Hungarian, French, German, Italian, “ and Russian naval forces have decided to put the Island of “Crete into a State of Blockade commencing on the 21st of “March at 8 a.m. “The Blockade will be general for all ships under the “Greek Flag.” “Ships of the six Powers, or neutral (sic) Powers, may “enter into the Ports occupied by the Powers and land “their merchandise, but only if it is not for the Greek troops “or the interior of the Island. These ships may be visited “by the ships of the International fleets. “The limits of the blockade are comprised between “23°24' and 26° 30' longitude E. of Greenwich and 35° 48' “and 34° 45' north latitude.” It is observable that neutral (or as they should more properly be called quasi-neutral) vessels are not, as in 1886, entirely exempted from the Blockade. This is a very serious omission, and it is rumoured that for this reason the United States Government has formally declined to recognise the Blockade. Probably, however, no restrictions on the vessels of any State other than the Great Powers or Greece were intended to be or will in fact be enforced. The Gazette notice reads as if it were a naval rather than a diplomatic composition. It is also noteworthy that no indication is officially given of the penalty for breach of Blockade. In 1886 the sole penalty was temporary “ detention” without compensation, and this was the only sanction recognised as permissible by the Institute in 1887. One Greek vessel appears to have been sunk by an Austrian man-of-war, in the present Cretan affair, but no claim for compensation has been made or suggested. What effect the formal declaration of war between Greece and Turkey will have upon Crete remains to be seen. Theoretically, perhaps, it should at once operate to dissolve the Blockade, but the Powers having occupied Crete will probably insist upon the Island being excluded altogether from the sphere of hostilities. It is quite certain, however, that the proposal to extend the Blockade to Greece itself must now be considered abandoned.
British experience of arbitrations has, ever since the Alabama affair, been singularly unfortunate. The recent award of Professor de Martens in the case of the Costa Rica Packet, following on the Behring Sea success, entitles us to hope that the tide of British reverses has at last been stemmed.
The facts in the latest case occurred so long ago as 1891.
Captain Carpenter, a British subject, and master of a New South Wales vessel called the Costa Rica Packet, in the course of a voyage in East Indian waters, came across a derelict Malay prahu on the High Seas laden with arrak and brandy, but with no person on board. Deeming it abandoned, he boarded the prahu, and sunk it after having removed the cargo, which he subsequently sold. On the arrival of his ship at Macassar, in November, 1891, Captain Carpenter was arrested by the Dutch authorities, detained in prison for a long period in spite of offers to give heavy bail, and after being subjected to great indignities was eventually released owing to the Macassar Court holding that it had no jurisdiction to try the case.
Demands for compensation were made and refused, but after protracted negotiations between the British and Dutch Governments the dispute was, by a Treaty of the 16th May, 1895, referred to the arbitration of Professor de Martens, the distinguished Russian jurist. Professor de Martens made his award in writing on the 13th February, 1897," declaring that the Dutch Government was liable for the acts complained of, and, estimating the damages by way of indemnity as follows: £3,500 to be paid to Captain Carpenter; £1,600 to the officers and crew of the Costa Rica Packet, and £3,800 to the owners of the ship, with interest at 5 per cent. from the 2nd of November, 1891, the date of the original arrest. The arbitrator also awarded £250 to the British Government by way of costs. The reasons for the award are stated at length, and are very interesting. Professor de Martens begins by reciting: “that the right of sovereignty of the State on the sea “adjacent to the land is determined by the range of a “cannon at low water; that on the high sea even merchant “ships constitute detached portions of the territory of the “State whose flag they carry, and consequently are only “judicially liable for acts committed on the high sea, to “their respective national authorities; that the State has “not only the right but the duty also to protect and “defend, by all the means authorised by International Law, “its subjects abroad, when they are the victims of arbitrary “proceedings or breaches of law committed to their “prejudice; that the Sovereignty of the State and the “independence of its judicial or administrative authorities “could not be upheld by the arbitrary suppression of the “legal security which ought to be guaranteed as much to “strangers as to the subjects in the territory of all civilized “countries.” The award then goes on to find as matters of fact that the prahu was seized by Captain Carpenter, “incontestably “outside the limit of the territorial sea of the Dutch Indies,” and that the Act was cognizable, if at all, only by British Tribunals; also that “the treatment inflicted on Captain “Carpenter in the Macassar prison was not justifiable in “the case of a subject of a civilized State who was detained “on an accusation, and that consequently this treatment “entitles him to a just compensation.” It is noteworthy that Professor de Martens explicitly abandons the old principle of the “Marine League” limit of jurisdiction over Territorial Waters. This is probably the first formal International declaration, in which the more modern view advocated by the Institute of International Law* in 1891 and 1894, has been explicitly enunciated. Looking at the main question on its merits, several considerations are at once suggested. In the first place, the principle of extra territoriality upon the High Seas, is, of course, liable to certain exceptions, the chief of which is the case of Piracy. If the proceedings of the Costa Rica had in fact been piratical, nothing more could have been said on the matter. The Batavian authorities would have been justified throughout. In arresting a foreign subject, however, for an offence alleged to have been committed outside their jurisdiction, they must be taken to have assumed the risk of consequences in case their charges failed to be substantiated. Their position, in short, was very analogous to that under English Law of a private citizen who arrests another without warrant on bare suspicion. If his suspicions prove unfounded, he has exposed himself to a claim for damages. In the present case, the Dutch authorities themselves confessed the groundlessness of the charge by abandoning the prosecution. In the next place, the mode of conducting the whole proceedings was, as the arbitrator pointed out, “not “justifiable in the case of the subject of a civilized State.”
The arrest and detention were based on no reasonable grounds, and the actual treatment of Captain Carpenter was unnecessarily harsh. It is to be observed that the case is not like those which have occasionally happened, in which an alien resident is injured by the acts of unauthorized private persons. In such a case, no claim for indemnity would reasonably lie against the Foreign Government unless (1) there were no remedy by recourse to the ordinary judicial tribunals and (2) the Government were indirectly responsible through not using due diligence to prevent the acts complained of. (See various instances and views cited by Wharton: Digest, Vol. II., § 223 and $226, especially cases of damage done by mobs.) In the present case, the wrong was done by the Government authorities themselves, and as it was without good cause shewn, it was clearly in accordance with International comity that compensation should be given. It is undoubtedly true that aliens must as a rule submit to the laws of the country in which they reside, but in what Hall* calls “exceptional cases” constituting “grievous oppression,” or what Phillimoret calls “flagrant injustice,” it is open to the complainant's Government to exact reparation. There was an interesting article last year in the Revue de Droit International, Vol. 28, No. 4, by M. Bles, a Dutch Jurist, in which he sought to shew that no claim for indemnity was sustainable by International Law. In the course of his paper he curiously enough referred to Professor de Martens as an authority in support of his contention. There are two earlier incidents on record which bear some sort of analogy to the present case, i.e., the English
* See International Law, V., ch. 3. + See International Law, 3rd edition, $87.