The Chargé at Tangier (Childs) to the Secretary of State

No. 928

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch no. 906 of July 20, 1942, transmitting a note addressed to the Spanish authorities74 concerning their attempt to open official packages addressed to the American Legation, and to transmit herewith copy of a note dated July 24, 1942 together with translation which I have received from my Spanish colleague in answer to my note.

I likewise enclose a copy of my rejoinder in which I have renewed the Legation’s objections to the inspection by the Customs authorities in Tangier of the contents of packages addressed to the Legation.

My British colleague informs me that he has not yet replied to General Uriarte’s note to him on the same general subject, which formed enclosure no. 3 to my despatch no. 843 of June 18, 1942. My British colleague states that he proposes to follow the same general lines in his reply to General Uriarte as I have taken in my enclosed note of July 29, 1942 to the Spanish Consul.

Respectfully yours,

J. Rives Childs
[Enclosure 1—Translation]

The Spanish Consul at Tangier (Soriano) to the American Chargé at Tangier (Childs)

No. 25

Mr. Chargé d’Affaires and Dear Colleague: In reply to your kind communication of July 20, 1942 concerning various cases lying in the Customs house addressed to the Legation under your charge and which are subject to inspection, I have the honor to inform you that such inspection is effected solely for statistical purposes which imply absolutely no diminution of the diplomatic privileges which our authorities are obliged to observe. It is merely a measure of control now applied in the Customs house following the assumption by Spain of the charge of that administration under a special regime, and by analogy with the rules established in Madrid in respect of any foreign representation, according to which every Chief of Mission disposes of a fictitious credit in pesetas, of a greater or lesser amount according to his rank, against which duties that should otherwise have been applied, are debited on each parcel of goods imported under franchise, without involving the payment of any amount. All this [Page 499] procedure, as I have stated above, is purely for statistical purposes, and parcels or packets exclusively constituting the diplomatic pouch are alone exempted from this measure of control.

I avail myself [etc.]

Rafael Soriano
[Enclosure 2]

The American Chargé at Tangier (Childs) to the Spanish Consul at Tangier (Soriano)

Mr. Consul and Dear Colleague: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your kind communication of July 24, 1942 in reply to my note of July 20, 1942 which, on the grounds of treaty, custom and usage, took exception to the intended inspection by the Customs authorities in Tangier of the contents of certain packages addressed to the American Legation.

You have been good enough to explain that such inspection measure now adopted in respect of parcels imported into Tangier under diplomatic franchise proceeds from the assumption by Spain of charge of the Customs administration in Tangier, and follows the rules established in Madrid for the Spanish Customs in this matter.

I note with pleasure your assurance that the inspection, which is required solely for statistical purposes, implies no impairment of the diplomatic privileges which the Spanish authorities are obliged to observe. The Legation would recall, however, that in Morocco this obligation on the part of the Spanish authorities implies observance of the privileges under reference such as they are established by treaty, custom, and usage, and as was pointed out in my note above mentioned in reference to Article 3 of the British-Moroccan treaty of 1856, and Article 3 of the Spanish-Moroccan treaty of 1861, have invariably been construed as granting to foreign missions and consulates, not only immunity from payment of customs duties, but also from inspection of the packages imported by them.

In the circumstances the Legation has no alternative but to confirm its position in the premises as set forth in its note of July 20, 1942, and consequently to renew its request that you will be good enough to take such action as may be necessary to cause delivery to be made to the Legation of the packages in question unexamined by the Customs authorities.

As stated in the Legation’s note above mentioned, its position on the point of inspection has never been questioned, and the franchise passes issued by the Legation, in accordance with the treaty provisions above cited, indicated merely the number, without specification of their contents, of the packages to be passed. However, a few years [Page 500] ago, the Chief of the Statistics Division of the Tangier Customs made an informal request that the Legation include in its franchise passes indications as to the nature, value, and if possible the weight of the articles imported by it. He explained that this would be a personal favor to him inasmuch as it would save him the time and trouble otherwise required to search for such data in ships’ manifests and in the parcel post returns of the various post offices in Tangier. Needless to say the Legation gladly acceded to this request and will be happy to continue this practice to facilitate the statistical work of the Spanish administrators of the Moroccan Customs.

Please accept [etc.]

J. Rives Childs
  1. See footnote 72, p. 497.