484.11 Young, Reuben S., No. 2/8

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Ethiopia (Southard)

No. 312

Sir: Reference is made to your despatch No. 1034 dated September 5, 1932,30 and other despatches concerning a claim by Dr. Reuben S. Young,31 an American citizen, against the Ethiopian Government for illegal detention at Diré-Daoua.

The Department has noted with some concern the incident which took place at the railway station at Diré-Daoua on August 19, when the local police forcibly prevented Dr. Young from boarding the train at your direction to accompany you to Djibouti. This action of the police may justly be characterized not only as a grave abuse of authority resulting in unwarranted interference with the lawful movements of an American citizen, but as a gross and inexcusable discourtesy to the official representative of the United States. The contemptuous disregard [Page 776]by the police of the fact that Dr. Young was in your company and under your protection is aggravated by the fact that even if Dr. Young’s arrest had been warranted—which was clearly not the case—his detention by the police authorities would have been a violation of the provisions of the final paragraph of Article VII of the Franco-Ethiopian Treaty of January 10, 1908,32 to the benefits of which the United States is entitled under the terms of Article III of the Treaty of June 27, 1914,33 between the United States and Ethiopia, in accordance with which an American national, arrested by Ethiopian authorities, is immediately to be placed in the custody of the American Consul.

For the reasons above stated, particularly in view of the frequency of flagrant abuse of their functions by the police and the definite indications that the illegal action in this instance was directed by a prominent official of the Ethiopian Government, the Department considers that you should have made prompt and vigorous protest against the serious affront offered to the Government of the United States by the disrespect and discourtesy shown to its official representative, the illegal interference with his rights and duties and the flagrant violation of the rights of a law-abiding American citizen.

With reference to Dr. Young’s claim for compensation, the Department considers that his detention at Diré-Daoua was an illegal act for which the Ethiopian Government may properly be held responsible. The Department is therefore prepared to support a claim on Dr. Young’s behalf.

The Department accordingly wishes you to inform the Ethiopian Foreign Minister that your Government is seriously concerned over the interference by the Diré-Daoua police with an American national while in your custody in clear violation of treaty rights, and considers that there is due to you an apology on account of that action, together with assurance that appropriate measures will be taken to prevent its recurrence. You should at the same time inform the Minister that you have been instructed to insist upon compensation being made to Dr. Young for the expenses incurred by him in consequence of his illegal detention at Diré-Daoua, together with a reasonable indemnity for loss of time and other damages suffered by him on that account.

Although the Department does not feel able, on the basis of the information available, to decide what particular sum might be considered a reasonable indemnity in the circumstances, it is suggested that the maximum should not exceed five or six hundred United [Page 777]States dollars. In presenting this claim you should make it clear to the Ethiopian Government that you have been instructed to insist upon a satisfactory settlement.

You are requested to report promptly to the Department the action which you take pursuant to this instruction as well as the results thereof.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
W. R. Castle, Jr.
  1. Not printed.
  2. Dr. Young was Municipal Health Officer at Diré–Daoua, Ethiopia, from May 9 to August 9, 1932.
  3. British and Foreign State Papers, vol. ci, p. 997.
  4. Foreign Relations, 1920, vol. ii, p. 243.