Addressing the Needs of Victims on Cruise Ships
Jamie Barnett  -  2012/5/9
http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ovcproviderforum
 
 
Hello to everyone in the forum; Being Puerto Rico a Cruise ship homeport to many cruise lines, many passengers arrive and leave thru our ports, either by air or by sea. Been also a US jurisdiction, many seek help concerning crimes committed aboard those big and mighty ships, that to those in need it turns to be a labyrinth. Never heard of local or federal authorities dealing with these crimes that to many go on unaccounted for. How can a non-government Crime Victim service provider help in these cases?
 
1.  Jamie Barnett
 The flag state will also have a say in any investigation. The ships are typically registered in the Bahamas, or Panama. The contributes to the confusion and lack of usable evidence in getting a successful conviction as you can see. You may also always contact us at ICV either by email at kcarver17@cox.net or Jamiebarn@gmail.com or by phone at 888-788-8816 and we will do all we can to assist you. Please find our website for more information at www.internationalcruisevictims.org Thank you, I hope this helps.
 
2.  Jamie Barnett
 HI, Thanks for contacting us. Unfortunately, the jurisdictional picture is very murky. That is something we hope to see more clearly defined as we move forward with a global solution to cruise ship safety and victims rights. Now, however, if the victim is a US citizen the FBI liaison could be contacted there in Puerto Rica. The ship is required to notify the FBI of any serious crime that has been committed onboard anyway now that the CVSSA is in place. The ship will also notify the port authorities that a crime scene is arriving in their jurisdiction and they will have the right to investigate if they want.
 
 
What should we tell people to do in preparation for their trip?
 
1.  Jamie Barnett
 Good question! We have prepared a wonderful brochure for just such a thing. It is called dont snooze before you cruise and is full of useful safety tips and information the typical cruise passenger wouldnt otherwise know about. Things like, make sure you read the fine print on your tickets. Get your cell service working on your cruise before you go, etc. This can be found on our site and copied so that you can give it to someone that may be going or considering going on a cruise. Please go to http://www.internationalcruisevictims.org/Articles/Dont_Snooze_Before_You_Cruise.html
 
 
What should victims do if they didn't report a crime while on a ship?
 
1.  Jamie Barnett
 They can still do so. We know of victims, especially young ones, who werent able to tell anyone what had happened to them until much later. Depending on the length of time that has passed, you may want to seek legal advice. If you need help with that, we can supply you with a list of several maritime attorneys who are experienced with such matters. We dont endorse anyone in particular but we do know of several. It is often a sad but necessary evil!! The laws are so tricky and difficult to navigate that we often find this being the case. I hope that helps you some. For more information please go to our website at www.internationalcruisevictims.org
 
 
Are there different procedures that cruise ship staff should be following based on cruiseline or destination? Or do all staff follow the same rules.
 
1.  Jamie Barnett
 For more information on the bill and the protection it brings to US citizens on cruise ships please refer to our website www.internationalcruisevictims.org Unfortunately, the same rules dont apply elsewhere. If this is not what you were looking for, please let me know and we can start over. ThanksJamie
 
2.  Jamie Barnett
 reported to the FBI as soon as possible. Medical confidentiality is guaranteed. Victims must be given their rights and the ability to contact the FBI, a Sexual assault hotline number, access to a computer, proper medications in the event of rape and proper treatment as well. There are to be security measures in place such as peep holes in cabin doors, increased railing heights, surveillance cameras, and a posted, public reporting of the number of crimes that occur on cruise ships each quarter.
 
3.  Jamie Barnett
 Hi Monty, I am not certain what type of procedural rules you are asking about, but I am going to assume you are referring to the aftermath of a crime once a victim has come forward. In that case, the rules are different for a US citizen on a ship leaving from or entering into a US port. Thanks to the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act which was passed in 2010 Americans now have a little more protection than other passengers (but we are working on that, I assure you!) Now, any crime involving a US citizen must be
 
 
If a medical emergency occurs on a cruise ship, how can I find out if the coast guard was contacted and if so what were they told about the victims condition?
 
1.  Jamie Barnett
 You might try calling the customer services department with the cruise lines but unfortunately they are very reluctant to give out much information and that will certainly be the case with someones medical condition as that is considered by law to be confidential information. I know that isnt the answer you were hoping for but Im afraid that is what you will be dealing with. Thank youJamie.
 
 
When the crime occurs is there any obligations of cruise companies to investigate, report, etc
 
1.  Jamie Barnett
 We would love to see the day come when independent security such as airplanes have would be found on cruise ships as well. As it is, the decision as to whether an investigation is launched or not is left up to the FBI. I hope this helps, and I encourage you to get more information on this by going to our website at www.internationalcruisevictims.org Thank youJamie
 
2.  Jamie Barnett
 Hi Jen, Yes, if you are a US citizen, thanks to the new Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2010. (CVSSA) We are working hard to make that true for everyone around the world. But for now, if a crime is committed involving a US citizen on a cruise ship leaving from or going into a US port, it must be reported to the FBI as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the cruise lines themselves take the legal position that they dont investigate crimes, and the only security that exists on a cruise ship is employed by the cruise ship! Obviously, that is a conflict of interest as they would have every interest in the world in protecting and defending their employer.
 
 
How has the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 impacted the investigation and reporting of crime on cruise ships?
 
1.  Jamie Barnett
 It includes contact numbers of the FBI, Sexual assault hotline numbers, access to a computer and a phone and more. Victims are also guaranteed confidentiality in regards to their medical records and access to appropriate medical treatment including a rape kit examination and the appropriate prophylactic drugs. In addition, all crimes reported to the FBI must be published publically on the US Coast Guard website as well as on the cruise lines website so anyone considering a cruise can make their own risk assessment. For more on the bill and what it means for US citizens, please go to www.internationalcruisevictims.org Thanks....Jamie
 
2.  Jamie Barnett
 Taylor, great question! First of all, it is now required that the crimes be reported to the FBI. Previously, it was all voluntary. And they must do so promptly! Of course this only applies to cruise ships sailing in or out of a US port when a crime has been committed involving a US citizen. We are working hard to change that to include all passengers worldwide. Also, all passengers must be given a passenger bill of rights as well, or as the cruise lines prefer to refer to it, A Security Guide, which tells you of your rights should you become a victim of crime.
 
 
I would imagine that investigating a crime on a cruise ship becomes difficult when multiple enforcement agencies could have jurisdiction. How is jurisdiction determined?
 
1.  Jamie Barnett
 And to further complicate matters, this all changes if the incident occurs in or on a foreign territory. Laws stemming from the US Code applies here, the IMO (International Maritime Organization), The Athens Convention, and others apply. This is all part of the nightmare any victim of cruise ship crime must face. The investigation and chances of a successful prosecution are nothing like you would find here in the US. The sad thing is that most passengers taking a cruise have no idea of how vulnerable they are. Thanks for asking and I hope this helps. Jamie
 
2.  Jamie Barnett
 Hi Caroll, You picked a good one!! It has been my experience that if you ask 100 different people that question you would get 100 different answers! The cruise lines say one thing, the FBI says another. An attorney will tell you still another. It is a very murky area. Typically, if a crime occurs on a cruise ship in international waters involving a US citizen that left from or is returning to a US port, the FBI will have jurisdiction. Now that jurisdiction may be concurrent with the flag state (the country where the ship is registered which is usually the Bahamas or Panama or Liberia) or even the port state the ship next enters.
 
 
are there any statistics related to crimes committed on cruise ships (i.e., type of crime, how often, etc.)?
 
1.  Jamie Barnett
 Hi Tomas, The answer is yes...sort of! One of the measures the CVSSA covers is the reporting and publishing of crimes. It is now mandatory that crimes be reported to the FBI as soon as possible where once it was volutary. That incident data must now be made available via the internet. The data is updated quarterly and aggregated by cruise line and each cruise line will be identified by name and each crime will be identified as to whether it was committed by a passenger or a crew member. Unfortunately, as far as we are concerned, this is not being done properly yet. In other words the crimes are not being reported the way congress intended. Fortunately, we have worked hard to see some changes to that which should be coming to light soon. So stay turned for more. thanks....Jamie
 
 
Are the medical staff aboard ships required to be trained properly in order to provide rape crisis, sexual assault, rape kit, etc.
 
1.  Jamie Barnett
 Thanks Maria, Yes, now they are thanks to the CVSSA (Cruise vessel safety and security act). We are proud of the measures the bill covers where that is concerned. Their medical staff must have undergone a credentialing process enabling them to provide assistance in conducting the proper forensic examination and treatment. The ships must also carry an adequate and up-to-date supply of anti-retroviral medications and others to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. They must now keep all of the victims medical information confidential. For more on this section in the CVSSA please go to our website at www.internationalcruisevictims.org where you will find the bill itself and all of the rights and requirements it brings. Thanks...Jamie
 
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