740.0011 European War 1939/18204

The Ambassador to the Polish Government in Exile ( Biddle ) to the Secretary of State
No. 77

Sir: Referring to my despatch Polish Series No. 75, December 2, 1941, I have the honor to report that in today’s conversation with M. Maurice Dejean, Free French National Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, he showed me a memorandum he had just written concerning certain points which he felt would be of interest to our Consul General in Beirut, as a result of decrees enacted by General Catroux on August 18th and September 26th respectively, and entailing certain modifications in the judicial system of Syria.

Following our conversation, he handed me the attached memorandum covering his remarks on these various points.

Respectfully yours,

A. J. Drexel Biddle, Jr.
[Enclosure—Translation]
Memorandum by the Free French National Commissioner for Foreign Affairs (Dejean)
1.
Further to the decrees enacted on August 18th and September 26th, 1941, by General Catroux entailing certain modifications in the [Page 811] judicial régime of Syria and the Lebanon, the United States Consul-General in Beirut was kind enough, by letter dated November 8th, to draw General Catroux’s attention to the rights held by the United States in virtue of the Franco-American Convention of April 4th, 1924.
2.
The decrees in question have in fact modified, in favour of the Syrians and Lebanese, the proportion of judges on the Supreme Court and on tribunals dealing with foreign questions. French magistrates will still preside, but will no longer necessarily form a majority. Moreover, Syrian and Lebanese nationals will henceforward be eligible to hold office as examining magistrates.
3.
The French National Committee, however, in no way contests the fact that they rank amongst those for which, according to the Franco-American Convention of April 4th, 1924, the previous consent of the United States should be obtained.
It is therefore quite prepared, in accordance with the assurance given by General Catroux to the United States Consul-General in Beirut, to apply as far as possible the previous judicial regime in cases concerning American nationals.
4.
The French National Committee is moreover resolved to limit measures of this kind to the strict indispensable minimum.