881.203/4

The Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Tangier (White) to the Secretary of State

No. 5

Sir: In reference to the Post Scriptum to Mr. Blake’s despatch No. 1551 of July 30, 1940, I have the honor to transmit herewith to the Department copy of a Note dated August 1, 1940, addressed by my predecessor to the Resident General of France at Rabat, in regard to the recent unwarranted proceedings against an American ressortissant in the French Military Court at Fez.

It is believed that Mr. Blake’s Note to General Noguès satisfactorily complies with the directions contained in the Department’s cable instruction No. 32 of July 25, 5 p.m.

The Department will be kept informed of any further developments in the matter.

Respectfully yours,

J. C. White
[Page 813]
[Enclosure]

The American Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Tangier (Blake) to the French Resident General in Morocco (Noguès)

Mr. Resident General: I have the honor to inform Your Excellency that Mr. Herbert S. Goold, the American Consul General at Casablanca, has reported the prosecution of an American protégé, Rahamin Azoulay, by the Court Martial at Fez, apparently on a charge of concealment of stocks, in contravention of the provisions of a Dahir of September 13, 1938, concerning the general organization of the country in time of war.

On this subject, Mr. Goold addressed two Notes dated respectively June 10,49a and July 6, 1940,50 to the Diplomatic Cabinet, pointing out that the American protégé concerned was under the exclusive jurisdiction of the American Consular Courts in Morocco. He consequently requested the good offices of the Diplomatic Cabinet to obtain desistance from the proceedings in the Military Court on the grounds of the lack of jurisdiction of that Court over the American protégé.

From a later report of Mr. Goold, it appears that this intervention on his part has proved ineffectual, since a judgment given by the Military Court on July 23, 1940, sentenced the American protégé to a suspended penalty of one month imprisonment, and to a fine of 1000 francs.

The matter has been brought to the attention of my Government, and the latter instructs me to point out to Your Excellency that the French Military Courts in Morocco cannot assume jurisdiction over American nationals or protégés by proclamation of state of siege, in the absence of an agreement to that effect with the Government of the United States, for the reason that, under the existing treaties, and by custom and usage, such persons are liable to judicial proceedings only in the Consular Courts of the United States of America in Morocco.

I am instructed to add that my Government has no desire to interfere with the French Government in the performance of its proper enterprises in Morocco but that it cannot admit violations of American rights by the French Military Authorities in Morocco in taking jurisdiction over an American protected person for an offense which obviously does not in any way threaten or affect the safety of the French forces.

Furthermore, I beg to recall that my Government’s attitude towards emergency war time legislation in French Morocco was stated in two Notes which I had the honor to address to Your Excellency respectively [Page 814]under dates of September 18, 193951 and January 9, 1940.52 In the latter Note, after indicating the reasons which prevented my Government from giving formal assent to such legislation, I informed Your Excellency that I was prepared to examine with the Protectorate Authorities, and report to the Department of State at Washington, suggestions designed to avoid special difficulties prejudicial to the interests of the Moroccan community, which might result from the failure of my Government to give its approval to legislation enacted as a result of the present exceptional circumstances.

In this connection the census of stocks held by American ressortissants—the basis of the case brought against the American protégé in the French Military Court at Fez—is a matter on which our mutual cooperation might well have fallen within the scope of such suggestions. It appears therefore to be deeply regrettable that instead of avail being taken of these friendly overtures, on my part, to deal with this question, resort should have been made to an unwarrantable action of the French Military Court at Fez in the premises.

In conclusion, while I have pleasure in reiterating to Your Excellency my readiness, in the future, to examine with the Protectorate Authorities, and to submit for the consideration of my Government the adoption of dispositions intended to overcome such special difficulties as may arise, I find myself obliged, in transmitting the observations of my Government upon the violation of American treaty rights involved in the action of the Court Martial at Fez against the American protégé, Rahamin Azoulay, to request that Your Excellency be good enough to cause the sentence of that Court to be quashed and the fine remitted.

Please accept [etc.]

Maxwell Blake
  1. Not found in Department files.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1939, vol. iv, p. 692.
  4. Ante, p. 772.