No. 21.
Mr. Partridge to Mr. Fish.

No. 322.]

Sir: In my No. 277 (August 20, 1875) I gave account to the Department of an extraordinary law which had been hurried through the chambers, by the fifth article of which, in connection with the eighth and second, this Parliament attempted to provide for the punishment of foreigners, who might afterwards attempt to come into or pass through Brazil, for acts committed by them, in their own or some other foreign country, beyond Brazilian jurisdiction, and to which, at that time, I called the attention also of my colleagues.

* * * * * * *

It is understood that the Earl of Derby directs Mr. Drummond to notify the Brazilian government that Her Majesty’s government cannot consent or submit to any action by Brazil thereunder which would punish British subjects in Brazil for acts done by them either in Great Britain or in any other foreign country not subject to Brazilian jurisdiction.

Mr. Drummond thereupon informed ‘this government of that resolution. * * * The minister of foreign affairs states that a similar law punishing foreigners who should be taken in or surrendered to France for certain offenses by them committed in a foreign country (specifying acts done against the safety of the state, forgery of its public seals, of its coined money or authorized bank-notes) had long ago been adopted in France, “a country where everything in respect of legislation was carefully studied, and any new measure adopted only after it had been ascertained that such measure did not infringe the rights of other nations.” He added that this legislation by France had not been objected to by Great Britain, and that laws similar to and in imitation of the French had been enacted since by Belgium, the Netherlands, Sardinia, Austria, Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony, Würtemberg, Hanover, Norway, Portugal, Oldenburg, Saxe-Weimar, Hesse, Baden, Saxe-Altenburg, and Brunswick, and, so far as he was informed, without any protest against the same or any notification to those countries by Great Britain that she could not consent or submit to that legislation being [Page 26] enforced against British subjects for acts so done by them in other countries, not subject to the jurisdiction which attempted to hold them responsible therefor.

I have said that I was not sufficiently informed as to the legislation of those countries to be able to say whether the statements of Baron de Cotegipe, in that respect, were correct or not; but I was aware that France had attempted, by certain laws, to follow Frenchmen (not foreigners) into foreign countries and hold her own citizens responsible, on their return to France, for acts done by them in countries not subject to French law. But I had not supposed, and could not now believe, without proof and sight of the law itself, that France, or those other countries named, had attempted to hold others than their own subjects, foreigners never in any way subject to their laws, responsible for any acts done outside those countries; and that, at any rate, as I understood our own and English law, neither the United States nor England ever set up any such jurisdiction over acts done beyond their limits by persons not subject to their law; that in my opinion nothing in international law could be adduced to support such claim; and that I supposed the United States equally with Her Majesty’s government would not be willing to consent to the enforcement of such laws against their own citizens.

I am, &c.,