No. 201.
Mr. King to Mr. Bayard.

No. 83.]

Sir: On the 11th of September last I had the honor to transmit, to you, under cover of my No. 70 of that date, a copy and translation of law 10, providing for foreign claims arising out of the late civil disturbances in this Republic.

I now inclose a copy and translation of executive decree No. 602, issued in conformity with the said law and directing the manner of carrying the same into effect. All claimants under it must be foreigners, and no claim can be held or presented by a citizen of this country, either as indorsee or transferee thereof.

In the preamble the decree affirms, as a principle of international law, that the Government should not be held to indemnify alien residents for losses or injuries sustained by them during a period of civil disturbance; but that, as an act of magnanimity peculiarly its own, it will, in the present instance, waive its immunity from obligation and repair the damages inflicted by native rebels upon its foreign guests. It is especially provided, however, that this act of generosity on the part of the Government shall never be cited as a precedent to influence its future action.

The rules laid down for the conduct of the examining board are, some of them, quite peculiar, while all of them are calculated to detect and defeat fraud and imposture. The claimant must establish his nationality; he must also prove his neutral character during the rebellion although if he had violated his neutrality in the interest of the Government, he will not be held to have forfeited his rights thereby.

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Claimants who are absent from the country are permitted to prosecute their claims through attorneys in fact duly authorized for such service but no claim will be considered which is based upon the loss or injury of property that is in process of litigation until the title to such property shall have been conclusively adjudicated in the courts of the Republic.

In cases where the damage is alleged to be the result of injury to property, the claimant must not only establish his ownership of such property, but that his ownership existed prior to the 13th of February, 1885; or, if acquired subsequent to that date, that the grantor was a stanch adherent of the Government.

Claimants must disprove the presumptions of fictitious contracts alleged to have been entered into by them, and unless the same be overcome by proof they must seek their remedy in the courts of justice.

Claimants are not permitted to make oral arguments before the board, but are required to submit their cases in writing duly fortified by the certificates and attestations of certain department officers, and these latter are required to certify to the board their opinion in each case as to its merits, and the formalities observed in its preparation.

All claims, in order to receive the favorable consideration of the Government, must be founded on damages arising out of acts signalized by the concurrence of the four following conditions: (1) That the injury was inflicted by a regular force of insurgents under the command of a known chief; (2) that it was done against the will and without the consent of the claimant; (3) that it was done for the indispensable maintenance of the rebels; and (4) that it was done in a manner not repugnant to morals and civilization. All these four concurring acts must be proven by competent testimony, and the burden of proof is on the claimant, so that according to the terms of the first, third, and fourth conditions imposed the claimant can not recover if he was robbed by predatory bands led by an obscure chieftain; nor if the property stolen from him was not scrupulously devoted to the immediate necessities of the thieves; nor unless he had been plundered in accordance with the ethics in such cases provided, and in pursuance of the usage among civilized nations.

I leave to your own speculations the measure of relief that is in store for the objects of this magnanimous provision of the Government.

I have, etc.,

V. O. King.
[Inclosure in No. 83.—Translation.]

Decree No. 602 of October 11, 1886, in furtherance of Law No. 10, of the present year, regulating the claims of foreigners.

The President of the Republic of Colombia, considering—

That, although in conformity with the principles of international law as recognized, accepted, and practiced by civilized nations, the Government is not under obligation to indemnify foreigners for the losses and damages suffered by them in times of civil disturbances, it has been pleased, nevertheless, on this occasion, of its own free will, to repair, as far as possible, all damages caused to foreigners by the late rebellion, provided that certain conditions prescribed by law shall be complied with, but the present course shall not hereafter be cited as a precedent for future action.
That in compliance with Article 16 of the law referred to the executive power is fully authorized to regulate the manner and direct the details for the execution of the same as far as it may be necessary,” and,
That it is proper to make uniform throughout the Republic the procedure by which foreigners may present their claims for indemnification, and that they may be [Page 249] advised of the formalities prescribed by the Government in order to take the same into consideration

He decrees:

Article 1.

The special board created by Law No. 10 to examine the claims presented by foreigners against the Government for loans, supplies, expropriations, or damages arising out of the late rebellion shall not entertain any claims unless presented by foreigners, and for damages suffered by foreigners. Consequently all claims, although arising out of damages suffered by foreigners, which may be presented by Colombians as indorsees or transferees, and those which, although presented by foreigners, may arise out of damages suffered by Colombians, shall be referred to a board to be organized for the purpose of considering the claims of Colombians.

Article 2.

The Government shall not be held responsible for damages caused by the rebels, except in those cases in which concur the following conditions:

When they may have been caused by regular forces acting in obedience to orders given by a known chief, and not when caused by fugitive bands or by guerrillas in bodies of less than fifty men.
When, in the infliction of the injury, the rebels may have used violence, or at least when it was done against the will of the injured person or without his consent, but such consent, even though implied, shall defeat the right to reclamation.
When the injury sustained has been caused for the indispensable maintenance of the rebels.
When, besides all the antecedent conditions, the injury may have been inflicted within the limits prescribed by morals and civilization.

All these acts shall be proven by testimony given with due solemnity and with the assistance of the public ministry.

Article 3.

The nationality of the claimant shall in all claims be the first question to be settled. In all cases the ministry of foreign relations shall decide such questions, in which it shall consider the provisions of the constitution in force at the time of the injury and the evidence offered by the person interested.

The facts to be proven shall be as follows:

The name, surname, and domicile of the claimant.
The place of his birth.
The names, surnames, and domiciles of his parents.
Their nationality.
The foreign citizenship of the claimant to be established by his recognition in such character by the legation of his allegiance.

These facts, excepting the fifth, shall be established in the manner and under the forms prescribed by the civil law to determine the civil status of persons except the proof of notorious possession, which is hereby declared insufficient for this purpose. The fifth fact shall be proven by a certificate from his legation.

Article 4.

After the foreign citizenship of the claimant shall be established, the question of his neutrality shall be inquired into. This latter shall be proven by an explicit certificate to that effect from the highest political authority in the department (late State) in which the claimant resided during the period comprised between the 18th day of December, 1884, and the 30th day of September, 1885. If the functionary who is to execute such certificate should not be personally cognizant of the facts to which he is to certify, he shall require the person interested to adduce solemn testimonial proof thereof, procured with the assistance of the public ministry. The fact that a foreigner shall have taken part in the late rebellion by placing his person, his interests, or his knowledge in the service of the Government of the Republic, or of any section in its interests, although in general terms he may thereby have lost his neutrality, shall not be considered to have produced such result for all the purposes of Law No. 10 and of the present decree.

Article 5.

Whenever any interested person shall not be able to present his claim in person on account of his residing out of the country, or for any other reason, he shall appoint [Page 250] an attorney, and the instrument naming the same shall he executed before a notary with due solemnity. Power of attorney in a foreign country shall be presented for authentication before the diplomatic or consular agent of the Republic nearest the place where the power is given, if there should be none at such place.

Article 6.

No claim whatever relating to property in litigation shall be considered. In such case the person interested shall previously submit his claims to the ordinary tribunals, and upon the decree thereof, establishing his rights, shall his claim be considered. This submission to the tribunals shall take place, in accordance with Article 2 of the said Law No. 10, whenever the facts upon which a claim is founded shall appear doubtful, and the claimant shall differ from the Government in such opinion. If the claimant should agree thereto, he shall supplement his evidence with such new proofs as may be required in order to entitle his claim to consideration by the Government.

Article 7.

The right herein granted to foreigners to present claims against the Government shall cease on the 30th day of August, 1387, and in accordance with Article 7 of Law No. 10. This term, incapable of extension, shall be equally applicable to minors, to women, to absentees, and to other privileged persons, in conformity with law.

Article 8.

The claimant shall fully prove that the effects, rights, and shares constituting his claim were his property before the day fixed by Article 8 of Law No. 10. If such property was acquired by the claimant at a period subsequent thereto, he shall prove that the grantor thereof was an undoubted friend of the Government. The proof required in this case shall be the same as that prescribed to establish the neutrality of foreigners, and shall be adduced with the same formalities.

Article 9.

All claims shall be rejected which are founded in contracts that are presumably fictitious or that were entered into for the purpose of defeating the fiscal measures of the Government. Unless the contrary be proven, no claim founded on such contract shall be admitted under the provisions of Law No. 10. Any person holding a claim under such circumstances may subject the same to the tribunals of justice.

Article 10.

If the claimant should be personally unknown to the minister of foreign relations and to his legation, he shall prove his identity in the manner prescribed by common law.

Article 11.

Every document or instrument that may be presented in evidence shall be authenticated by the political authorities of the department in the order of their work, from the highest inclusive.

Article 12.

All authorities who may act as public functionaries in the preparation of claims, whether they belong to the judicial, political, or military order, shall, in the documents authenticated by them, declare their opinion concerning the merits of such claims and the forms adopted in presenting the same. Whenever such opinion shall be adverse to the claim of the person interested, the said authority shall communicate the same, in a special order, to the minister of foreign relations. All judges before whom declarations shall be made shall certify to the personal and legal character of the persons making the same.

Article 13.

In no case shall claimants be permitted to make oral allegations or arguments. All Statements alleged in support of a claim shall be submitted in writing.

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Article 14.

If the evidence of claims already presented to the minister of foreign relations should appear incomplete, it shall, in order to entitle the same to consideration, be supplemented in the manner directed by this decree. In cases in which several claims hear the same date, that which is most complete shall have precedence in the order of consideration; in cases presenting the same form, that of the earliest date shall have the preference; in cases bearing the same date and being equally entitled to consideration, the precedence shall be determined alphabetically.

J. M. Campo Serrano.

By the minister of foreign relations:
Vicente Restrepo.