Mr. Terres to Mr. Foster.
port au Prince, Haiti, November 25, 1892. (Received December 5.)
Sir: Referring to my No. 129, of the 18th instant, concerning the case of Mr. Frederick Mevs, I have to report that on Friday, 18th instant, at 4 p.m., three and a half days after sending my communication to the Haitian Government, I received a dispatch, of which inclosure 1 is a copy with translation, from the minister of foreign affairs, who also holds the portfolio of justice, and on the 22d, in the afternoon, I received the dispatch, of which inclosure 2 is a copy, accompanied with a translation.
Mr. Mevs had then been confined in prison eleven days, and up to that time no interrogation had been made into his case, which according to paragraph 118, of criminal instruction, should be done within twenty-four hours. Now, admitting this to be a case of smuggling (but Mr. Mevs assures me that there exists no foundation for the accusation) I do not think that the Haitian authorities have any law which justifies them in putting the person accused in prison. They can, in cases of persons caught in the act of smuggling, confiscate the goods found in their possession, and on conviction for the offense be condemned to six months’or two years’imprisonment. Such was the stand taken in 1882 by Mr. Langston, at the time minister resident to Haiti, in the case of Capt. Potter, who was confined in prison for four days for smuggling (see dispatch No. 508 of December 18, 1882), and the Haitian Government was forced to pay $5,000 indemnity to him for false imprisonment, and they are far less justified in the case of Mr. Mevs than in the one just cited.
I have never known a case of a person accused of smuggling, except the case of Capt. Potter, where they were confined in prison, and it is my conviction that it is not for the crime committed that our citizen is held in prison, but to show a disrespect for our citizens and Government.
I will await instructions before taking any further steps in this case.
I have, etc.,