438.00/247: Telegram

The High Commissioner in Haiti ( Russell ) to the Secretary of State

69. Department’s 47, April 14, 4 p.m. Replying to my note of April 17th relative to jurisdiction of Claims Commission, Haitian Congress [Government] under date of May 12th replies as follows:

“The Haitian Government does not believe that it is possible to stop the work of the Claims Commission at the date indicated. If it is true that that diplomatic instrument is the means of putting into effect article 12 of the treaty of September 16th, [1915,] it is no less true that it has been necessary to come to an understanding with states who are not contractual parties, in connection with the examination by the said commission of the claims of their respective nationals. In this connection, it is only very recently that the reply of the French Government to the project or an agreement sent to it on March 31st has been received. The French project stipulates in its article 1 that

‘all claims based on facts anterior to the date of the present agreement and presented in the name of nationals or protégés of France shall be submitted by the French Legation for consideration by the Claims Commission instituted by article 2 of the protocol signed October 3, 1919, between the Governments of Haiti and of the United States, it being well understood that during the [period?] in which the claims of French citizens and protégés are being examined, the third member of that commission shall be appointed, upon presentation of the French Government, and commissioned as the others, by the President of Haiti.’

It does not appear to be possible to limit to the date of May 3, 1916, the jurisdiction of the commission which the non-contracting states have accepted following the negotiations at Port au Prince as well as Washington.

Furthermore, it is proper to remember that the protocol, in general terms, gives full powers to the commission to pass upon all pecuniary claims against Haiti except four categories of claims specified and which are not to be examined by it.

In view of the foregoing considerations, the Haitian Government believes that the work of the commission should normally stop at the date of June 26th, 1922, the date of the law sanctioning the protocol of October 3, 1919.”

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If the date of ratification of protocol by the Haitian Government (June 26th, 1921 [1922]) is taken, it is my opinion that some claims would be presented involving decisions of Department’s Financial Adviser and other Treaty Officials and perhaps of the Department of State. Furthermore, such an extension of time could only be arrived at by a separate agreement between the two Governments.

If date of ratification of treaty is taken all foreign claims after May 1916 can be made through diplomatic channels.

In view of above it is my opinion that jurisdiction should be limited to date of ratification of treaty.