« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
'form of labour. Provisions as to forced labour for the 'construction and repair of public roads, &c, have 'been very generally introduced in the legislation of our 'North American, West Indian, and Eastern Colonies, 'as well as in India, and are not unknown to the laws 'of this country and of Scotland. If, therefore, this 'provision were to be judged merely by the precedents 'which are furnished by other of Her Majesty's posses'sions, no objection would be taken to the course which 'you have pursued. Nevertheless, Her Majesty's Govern'ment think it, on the whole, wiser to adhere, in the 'present instance, to the policy laid down in my telegram 'of October 25, and they do so on the grounds stated 'in that instruction. Any arrangement which would 'give the opportunity of imputing, however erroneously, 'to the English Government a practice which could be 'represented as. being akin to slavery, might weaken its 'authority in dealing with neighbouring countries where 'slavery still exists. The geographical situation of 'Cyprus lends a special importance to this considera'tion. An equally cogent reason is to be found in the 'circumstance, that in executing any law of this kind, 'your Excellency will be compelled to rely on the in'strumentality of agents who have not been trained 'under an English Government. I have to request you 'therefore, at an early meeting of your Legislative 'Council, to propose the repeal of so much of the tenth 'clause as sanctions the use of imprisonment for the 'purpose of compelling the performance of labour. The 'person absenting himself from work, after electing to 'make his contribution in labour, should, of course, still 'remain liable for a moderate pecuniary penalty im'posed upon him for failing to fulfil his engagement.'
The Fugitive-Slave Circulars. i95
That the public feeling of the country and the current interpretation of the Constitution are still able to present a vigorous and effective reaction against the reintroduction of slavery, or the patronage of the system of slavery in any form, was manifested in the course of the years 1875 and 1876, on the occasion of the Admiralty attempting, through the medium of what became known as the 'Fugitive Slave Circulars,' to deny to slaves escaping on board one of Her Majesty's ships within the territorial waters of a slave-holding Power so much as even a temporary right of asylum. The first of these Circulars was issued on August 21, 1875, and among other things, it peremptorily directed officers in command of Her Majesty's ships that a fugitive slave, in the case alluded to, 'must not be allowed to 'remain on board after it has been proved to the satis'faction of the officer in command that he is legally a 'slave.' Another Circular, modifying the severe terms of the first, was subsequently issued, in deference to the strong expression of public opinion which had been elicited. A Royal Commission was then appointed to ascertain the state of the law, and the consequence was the final substitution of a Circular of a wholly different and innocuous kind. It is to be noticed that the public objection was not grounded on any supposed moral or legal duty binding on all officers in command of Her Majesty's ships to recognise an absolute right of asylum in all slaves taking refuge from their masters on theadjoining territory, but on the generality of the direction that in no cane was the officer to grant an asylum, and the implication in the presence of foreign Powers to the effect that for the purpose of retaining fugitive slaves Her Majesty's ships in foreign ports iiad no longer, as they were believed to have, all the privileges of British territory. The inconvenience also of imparting to naval officers a judicial character, for the purpose of determining the 'legality' of a condition which both the English Constitution and English traditions of the most unmistakable sort combine to abhor, was too obvious to stand a few moments' popular criticism, and still less the searching ordeal of a Royal Commission.
The principle of extending the authority of the British Government beyond the territorial limits of the British dominions has been recognised in the case of India by the Acts of 1861, 1865, and 1869.1 The Act of 1861 enables the Governor-General in Council to make 'laws and regulations for all persons, whether 'British or native, foreigners or others, and for all 'Courts of Justice whatever, and for all places and 'things whatever, within the Indian territories now 'under the dominion of Her Majesty, and for all ser'vants of the Government of India within the domi'nions of Princes and States in alliance with Her 'Majesty.' The Act of 1865 enables the GovernorGeneral of India in Council to make laws and regulations for all British subjects of Her Majesty within the dominions of Princes and States in India in alliance with Her Majesty, whether in the service of the Government of India or otherwise. The Act of 1869 enables the Governor-General in Council to make 'laws and 'regulations for all persons, being native Indian subjects • of Her Majesty, without and beyond, as well as within 'the Indian territories of Her Majesty.'
1 2i and 25 Vict. cap. 67 28 Vict. cap. 17 ; 32 and 33 Vict. cap. 97. The Kid,7iapping Act.
A remarkable instance of an extension of jurisdiction by Act of Parliament over places outside the British dominions is supplied by what is known as the Kidnapping Act of 1872.1 The Act recites that 'criminal outrages by British subjects upon natives of 'islands in the Pacific Ocean, not being in Her 'Majesty's dominions, nor within the jurisdiction of 'any civilised Power, have of late much prevailed and 'increased, and it is expedient to make further pro'vision for the prevention and punishment of such 'outrages.' The offences punishable under the Act are such as carrying native labourers from islands in the Pacific Ocean without complying with the formal requirements of any of the Australasian Colonies in respect of vessels sailing from the ports of such colony; decoying natives for the purpose of importing or removing them without their consent; shipping, embarking, or confining them on board any vessel, either on the high seas or elsewhere, without their consent; contracting for such shipping, embarking, receiving, detaining, or confining of natives; and fitting out, manning, equipping, or hiring vessels, or commanding or even being on board vessels, with intent to commit, • or 'that anyone on board such vessel should commit,' such offences. The offence is to be felony; and the accused may be tried in any Supreme Court of Justice in any of the Australasian Colonies, and upon conviction be liable, at the discretion of the Court, to the highest punishment other than capital punishment, or to any less punishment awarded for any felony by the law of the Colony in which such offender shall be tried. The
1 35 and 36 Vict. cap. 19.
Act further gives considerable powers of detaining, seizing, and bringing in for adjudication before the Vice-Admiralty Court any British vessel which upon reasonable grounds is suspected of being or having been employed in the commission of any of the offences enumerated in the Act, or of having been fitted out for such employment. If the charge is established, the vessel may be forfeited to Her Majesty.
The pertinacious continuance of slavery as an institution in Africa and the Turkish dominions, and especially on the shores of the Persian Gulf, has lately led to renewed efforts on the part of Parliament to supplement and consolidate the older Statutes for the suppression of the Slave Trade, and to give increased powers and jurisdiction to Vice-Admiralty Courts for the purpose of giving effect to those Acts. By the 'Slave Trade Jurisdiction (Zanzibar) Act, 1869," special provision was made for the exercise of a limited Vice-Admiralty jurisdiction, in matters relating to the Slave Trade, by Her Majesty's Consul within the dominions of the Sultan of Zanzibar. A similar Act was passed in 1873,* by which * all jurisdiction which is by any Act conferred 'on the Vice-Admiralty Courts in Her Majesty's posses'sions abroad in regard to British vessels seized by the 'commander or officer of any of Her Majesty's ships, 'on suspicion of being engaged in or fitted out for the 'Slave Trade, and in regard to the persons, goods, and 'effects on board thereof,' was, in certain specified cases, conferred on the 'East African Courts.' 'The East 'African Courts' was interpreted to mean the Vice