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

No. 970

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch no. 928 of July 29, 1942 concerning a claim asserted by the Spanish authorities in Chargé of the Moroccan Customs of their right to open official packages addressed to the American Legation, and to transmit herewith a copy of a note dated August 11, 1942 together with a translation, which I have received from General Uriarte, Delegate in Tangier of the Spanish High Commissioner, in reply to my last communication on this subject.

I likewise enclose a copy of my reply. I believe the Department will find the enclosed correspondence self-explanatory. It will be noted that General Uriarte has stated that the question is being submitted to the Madrid government “for the purpose of eliciting the rule to be followed in practice”.

My British colleague has shown me the text of a practically identical note dated August 11, 1942, which he has received from General Uriarte. In transmitting it to his Foreign Office he comments on it as follows:

“It remains to be seen what decision is taken by the Spanish authorities in Madrid with regard to the question of the interpretation of the Treaties in question. Meanwhile, however, articles of various kinds, which have been addressed to me officially and privately, are accumulating in the go-downs of the Tangier port, and unless I can receive a reply fairly soon from the Spanish authorities, I shall be obliged to permit the authorities to examine the said articles, but under full reserves, and pending a final decision of the question at issue.”

[Page 501]

A copy of this despatch is being communicated to our Embassy in Madrid and it is suggested that the Department may find it desirable to indicate its own views on this subject to the Embassy.

Respectfully yours,

J. Rives Childs
[Enclosure 1—Translation]

General Jenaro Uriarte, Delegate in Tangier of the Spanish High Commissioner for Morocco, to the American Chargé at Tangier (Childs)

No. 514

Mr. Consul General and Dear Friend: Reference is made to your communication dated July 29 last addressed to the Consul of Spain in this city concerning the position which you take on the question of the inspection by our customs service of seven postal packets received by the administration of the Spanish Post Office and consigned to your Consulate General.

In respect of the measure adopted by the customs service, I would inform you that this proceeds from the fulfilment of regulation duties which are in accordance with those very conventions to which your Consulate General refers in its last note (Article 3 of the Anglo-Moroccan Treaty of 1856 and Article 3 of the Spanish Moroccan Treaty of 1861) the letter and spirit of which are neither contradictory nor contrary to customs inspection of the merchandise.

It should be repeated that the immunity of the diplomatic pouch, which is not contested, must be distinguished from the remission of customs duties conceded to foreign diplomatic representatives (custom franchise) in respect of articles or objects for their personal use or for that of their families. Any assimilation of the immunity referred to with the last mentioned prerogative is deemed by this Delegation to proceed from an erroneous interpretation of the treaties.

On these grounds therefore, and for the purpose of eliciting the rule to be followed in practice, I am consulting the superior authorities in the matter while, at the same time, submitting to them your views as to the interpretation of the treaties under reference.

Please accept [etc.]

J. Uriarte
[Enclosure 2]

The American Chargé at Tangier (Childs) to General Jenaro Uriarte, Delegate in Tangier of the Spanish High Commissioner for Morocco

My Dear General Uriarte: Acknowledgment is made of your kind communication of August 11, 1942 in reference to my note of [Page 502] July 29, 1942 addressed to my honorable Colleague of Spain in Tangier in which, on the grounds of treaty, custom and usage I claimed exemption from customs examination of all parcels consigned to this mission or to the American Consulate General.

In reply I would inform you that I am unable to concur in your suggestion that my objection to such examination proceeds from an error in the interpretation of the treaty provisions under reference, (Article 3 of the Anglo-Moroccan Treaty of 1856 and Article 3 of the Spanish-Moroccan Treaty of 1861) an interpretation which, moreover, is sanctioned by the unvaried application of these provisions in practice by the Moroccan Customs Administration for close on a century.

I note, however, that you are submitting this question to the consideration of your superior authorities and I would inform you that I am likewise transmitting to my Government the views expressed on both sides in the correspondence exchanged between us on the subject.

With kind personal regards,

Sincerely yours,

J. Rives Childs