Whacky Hypothetical - eg. Extradition - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 17 Old 11-15-2009 Thread Starter
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Whacky Hypothetical - eg. Extradition

So I'm having a few drinks with a friend talking about retirement to a life of sailing and maybe keeping a small apartment/condo here in the states as a home base. He has no clue about sailing, cursing, etc and listened very carefully as I talked about living aboard, island hopping, and maybe even extended voyages east or west.

He looked me square in the eye and ask "What are you running from ? ". I had nothing. I said, I'm not running from anything, I'm "running" toward a different lifestyle. This is how I want to spend my last years.

He was not convinced. My friend of 30+ years perhaps out of folly threw this at me...
"Well, they cant extradite you from international waters".. WTF? I've never even thought along these lines... but now I am.

So this post is to ask about maritime law and vessels in international waters. Let's say for giggles I raked in millions from some "illegal" scheme, was close to being caught, and didn't want to pay for my crime. Or for that matter was caught. Whatever.

If I was sailing most of the time in international waters, taking my chances by mooring somewhere to get supplies, and slipping away again quickly... could someone avoid the "long arm of the law" in this fashion.

I've just been intrigued by this since the other night. Is it possible to "round up" criminals when they are in no specific jurisdiction?

Sorry but I had to ask. This is by far the craziest question about my "dreams" I've ever been ask so I had to share.

Cheers,
MZr7

1985 Catalina 36 Tall #404
s/v Peace of Mind
Austin, Tx.
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post #2 of 17 Old 11-16-2009
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Perhaps the distinction should be made between extradition (a treaty obligation of one country to turn over alleged criminals wanted by another country -- think Roman Polanski) and seizure. If the alleged crime is big enough, the state will take an interest in seizing the perpetrator and commit resources commensurate with its interest (how much did you get away with? how badly do they want to make you an example?).

That being said, twenty years ago it may have been remotely possible to fade away, thirty years ago more likely. Developments in communications technology have shrunk the world to the point where it would be damn hard to find a safe haven.

As a practical matter, my boat sails on average at 7 knots; cutters and destroyers routinely do 30+, and they have big guns and aircraft. Outrunning the authorities isn't very likely, at least in the long term. At any rate, since the passage of the Patriot Act, the US government seems able to seize anyone they wish, when and wherever they wish. It does sound like an interesting plot for a novel, though. Cheers,
Ed

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post #3 of 17 Old 11-16-2009
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I am guessing that the obverse would occur and international waters would hold no protection for you as a wanted crim. As an American, your government would just do what it needed in order to get you. Collateral damage - so what ! Watch out for mushroom clouds - you know, one flash and you're ash!
just jokes


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post #4 of 17 Old 11-16-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by St Anna View Post
I am guessing that the obverse would occur and international waters would hold no protection for you as a wanted crim. As an American, your government would just do what it needed in order to get you. Collateral damage - so what ! Watch out for mushroom clouds - you know, one flash and you're ash!
just jokes
they don't seem to be applying that logic to pirates though.....

Andrew B (Malö 39 Classic)

“Life is a trick, and you get one chance to learn it.”
― Terry Pratchett.
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post #5 of 17 Old 11-16-2009
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Quote:
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they don't seem to be applying that logic to pirates though.....
Yes TSW very poor form blowing up a poor african gentleman, forced into a life of crime. BUT this is different. Nuke the b&^%$#$%.


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post #6 of 17 Old 11-16-2009
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Sorry TSW, I mean TDW - I was exercising 'pushing the button" and I have fat fingers


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post #7 of 17 Old 11-16-2009
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If your boat is US registered then, when you are on it in international waters, you are actually in the USA (see Wiki extraterritorial)


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post #8 of 17 Old 11-16-2009
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A very wet Dog, The Bounty Hunter would show up on your boat when you least expected it!

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post #9 of 17 Old 11-16-2009
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The US exercises jurisdiction over US citizens and vessels on the high seas.
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post #10 of 17 Old 11-16-2009
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I looked in to this some time ago when on a UK registered vessel and had heard reports of aggressive boarding by the US authorities in International waters.

Yes my boat was essentially and extension of the UK while I was a UK flagged vessel in International waters and that theoretically I could refuse to allow an inspection team aboard in practice they just contact the UK and they obtain some kind of permission to board me whether I wanted to or not.

Might be an interesting question to ask of a vessel flagged in a country that did not cooperate with the US.
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