Crime Aboard High Seas
The FBI is committed to addressing piracy and serious criminal acts of violence, while working with their many overseas partners investigating and prosecuting individuals who commit Crime Aboard High Seas. The authority of the FBI to investigate Crime Aboard High Seas and enforce laws of the United States on ships in international water depends on several factors, including: The vessel’s location, the nationality of a victim or perpetrator, the vessel’s ownership, points of embarkation and debarkation, and the country in which a vessel is flagged—all play a role in determining whether there is federal authority to enforce U.S. law.
In addition to the laws of the United States and laws of other sovereign nations, international law also plays a role determining whether legal authority exists for the FBI to respond and investigate Crime Aboard High Seas. As these incidents can involve citizens and/or interests of other countries, the FBI’s response must be tailored to the sovereign interests of the affected nations and coordinated with the State Department. Hence, Crime Aboard High Seas is often a complex problem.
As long as a Crime Aboard High Seas is committed within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, the FBI can generally focus its investigative efforts using Title-18 criminal offenses as a means to effect prosecution and impose penalties. The Title-18 criminal violations include: assault, murder, attempt to commit murder or manslaughter, kidnapping, sexual abuse, robbery and theft. Confronted with a serious incident involving a Crime Aboard High Seas and a foreign nation, the FBI generally sends it’s agents to conduct crime-scene investigations, but sometimes travel and logistics can pose a real problem. Needing assistance overseas, the FBI’s Legal Attaché [LEGAT] generally coordinates investigations with a host country’s law enforcement authority, but investigations can still be hampered by language problems, political considerations and the known skill level and resources of local authorities–not to mention available U.S. resources.
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