File No. 892.89.
The Acting Secretary of State to Chargé Tarler.
Washington, November 9, 1910.
Sir: Referring to your dispatch, No. 608, of May 23, 1910, inclosing a copy of the supplementary law to the law on navigation in Siamese waters, and stating that the legation has been requested to make the law binding on American citizens in Siam, you are informed that although the department authorized you in its instruction of May 9, 1910,1 to comply with the request of the foreign office to enforce the automobile act for the year 128, this is not to be taken as indication that it desires to formulate and promulgate laws for American citizens in extraterritorial countries.
Where the laws extended by treaties and acts of Congress to extraterritorial countries fail to furnish sufficient and appropriate remedies Congress has provided a method of supplying such deficiencies by decrees and regulations which shall have the force of law until annulled or modified by act of Congress (R. S., sees. 4030 to 4130). The functions of the Secretary of State in countries in which there is a minister is limited in this respect merely to transmitting the regulations to Congress for revision. The department, however, may comment and doubtless even criticise any such regulations and lay before Congress such comments or criticism, in connection with its transmission of the regulation.
In view of this condition of the law the department can merely state that it sees no objection to extending the supplementary law to the law on navigation in Siamese waters to American citizens residing in Siam, reserving, of course, all treaty rights.
As by statute our consular “jurisdiction [in those countries where the United States-enjoys extraterritorial rights by treaties] in both criminal and civil matters, shall in all cases be exercised and enforced in conformity with the laws of the United States, which are hereby so far as necessary to execute such treaties, respectively, and so far as they are suitable to carry the same into effect, extended over all [Page 850] citizens of the United States in those countries * * *; but in all cases where such laws are not adapted to the object or are deficient in the provisions necessary to furnish suitable remedies, the common law and the law of equity and admiralty shall be extended in like manner over such citizens and other in those countries;” and if they fail to “furnish appropriate and sufficient remedies the ministers in those countries, respectively, shall, by decrees and regulations, * * * supply such defects and deficiencies” it is difficult to see how the consular courts can enforce local laws and regulations by assuming jurisdiction of offenses against the same until such local laws and regulations have, in the manner authorized by Congress, been made a part of that body of American law which has been extended to extraterritorial countries. In the opinion of the department it seems that this may be done where necessary by incorporating the local laws or regulations into a decree or regulation of the minister or other authorized agent which shall be promulgated by him in the manner provided in the Revised Statutes for the issuance and promulgation of regulations of ministers and other authorized agents. In this connection your attention is called to Revised Statutes, section 4101, regarding punishment by fine and imprisonment, and to the case of Sexton v. the United States in the United States court for China, concerning the validity of regulations.
I am, etc.,
- Not printed.↩