- Project Runeberg -  A practical guide for Russian consular officers and all persons having relations with Russia /
291

(1916) Author: Alfons Heyking - Tema: Russia
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P. VII., Сн. x. EXTERRITORIALITY OF WARSHIPS. 291

have the option of retaining them in custody, or delivering them to
the captain for trial. If the culprits succeed in reaching the ship
before they are arrested, their cases can only be dealt with under
the extradition laws. The same rules apply in the case of launches
or boats carrying persons to or from the ship.

In the case of a fugitive slave seeking refuge on board of a warship,
it is important to know whether the captain is obliged to surrender
him or not. To solve this question it is necessary to take into
consideration the fact that, according to the laws of all civilised nations,
every slave is free from the moment he sets foot on their territory,
and as warships are regarded as part of the territory of the State to
which they belong, a slave becomes free the instant he steps on board.
On the other hand, the act of escaping from a condition of slavery is
not regarded by civilised nations as a breach of lawful contract. The
commander of a warship is therefore justified in refusing to surrender
a fugitive slave who has taken refuge on board of his vessel. Great
Britain has expressed these principles in the Slave Circular of 1876,
according to which (§ 1) demands for the surrender of fugitive slaves
who have taken refuge on board of British men-of-war cannot be
acceded to, and (§ 2) it is impossible to establish general rules which
would apply to ever}’ case of a fugitive slave seeking refuge on board
of a British man-of-war. The question is thus a questio jacti depending
entirely on the discretion of the commander.

When any portion of the crew of a foreign man-of-war is on shore
in the exercise of military duties, they are to be regarded as in organic
communication with the warship and therefore as exterritorial. A
military landing, however, cannot be effected otherwise than with
the knowledge and special consent of the local authorities.

Foreign warships are, moreover, exempt from local customs duties ;
they cannot be inspected by customs officials, and all access to the
ship in the interests of the customs is prohibited.

Similarly, warships are exempt from the jurisdiction of the local
police. They must, however, obey the regulations of the port where
they may happen to be, as well as local sanitary requirements.
Sometimes this principle is embodied in special State Conventions : thus,
the State Convention concluded between England and Peru on the
10th April 1850,1 provides that the admission of warships belonging
to the contracting parties to each other’s ports and harbours is subject
to their observance of all rules and regulations in force at such ports.

It must be understood, moreover, that no State loses its right of
legitimate self-defence even in respect of a foreign ship of war which
is in its waters. Thus, in 1832, the Court of Cassation at Paris decided,
in connection with the affair of the Sardinian warship " Carlo Alberto,"
which had clandestinely entered the port of Marseilles with several
persons on board who, in concert with the Duchess of Berry, intended
to carry out a plot against the French Government, " that the privilege
established by international law for warships of neutral and allied

1 This matter is treated in greater detail in " L’Exterritorialite " by the
author, 2 Ed., 1900, Petrograd.

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