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The President of the United States of America and His Majesty the King of the Belgians. being mutually desirous of defining the rights, privileges and immunities of consular officers in the two countries, deem it expedient to conclude a consular convention for that purpose, and have accordingly named as their plenipotentiaries:
The President of the United States, William Maxwell Evarts, Secretary of State; and His Majesty the King of the Belgians, Maurice Delfosse, Commander of the Order of Leopold, &c., &c., his Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary in the United States; who, after having communicated to each other their respective full, powers found to be in good and proper form, have agreed upon the following articles:
Each of the high contracting parties agrees to receive from the other, Consuls-General, Consuls, Vice-Consuls and Consular Agents, in all its ports, cities and places, except those where it may not be convenient to recognize such officers. This reservation, however, shall not apply to one of the high contracting parties without also applying to every other power.
The Consuls-General, Consuls, Vice-Consuls and Consular Agents of each of the two high contracting parties shall enjoy reciprocally, in the States of the other, all the privileges, exemptions and immunities that are enjoyed by officers of the same rank and quality of the. most favored nation. The said officers, before being admitted to the exercise of their functions and the enjoyment of the immunities, thereto pertaining, shall present their commissions in the forms established in their respective countries. The government of each of the two high contracting power, shall furnish them the necessary exequatur free of charge, and, on the exhibition of this instrument, they shall be permitted to enjoy the rights, privileges and immunities granted by this convention.
Consuls-General, Consuls, Vice-Consuls and Consular Agents, citizens of the State by which they are appointed, shall be exempt from preliminary arrest except in the case of offences which the local legislation qualifies as crimes and punishes as such; they shall be exempt from military billetings, from service in the regular army or navy, in the in militia, or in the national guard; they shall likewise be exempt from all direct taxes, national, state or municipal, imposed upon persons, either in the nature of capitation tax or in respect to their property, unless such taxes become due on account of the possession of real estate, or for interest on capital invested in the country where the said officers exercise their functions. This exemption shall not, however, apply to Consuls-General, Consuls. Vice-Consuls or Consular Agents engaged in any profession, business or trade, but the said officers shall in such case be subject to the payment of the same taxes that would be paid by any other foreigner under the like circumstances.
When a court of one of the two countries shall desire to receive the judicial declaration or deposition of a Consul-General, Consul, Vice-Consul or Consular Agent, who is a citizen of the State which appointed him, and who is engaged in no commercial business, it shall request him, in writing, to appear before it, and in case of his inability to do so, it shall request him to give his testimony in writing, or shall visit his residence or office to obtain it orally.
It shall be the duty of such officer to comply with this request with as little delay as possible.
In all criminal cases, contemplated by the sixth article of the amendments to the Constitution of the United States, whereby the right is secured to persons charged with crimes to obtain witnesses in their favor, the appearance in Court of said consular officer shall demanded, with all possible regard to the consular dignity and to the duties of his office. A similar treatment shall also be extended to th consuls of the United States in Belgium, in the like cases.
Consuls-General, Consuls, Vice-Consuls and Consular Agents may place over the outer door of their offices the arms of their nation, with this inscription: Consulate-General, or Consulate, or Vice-Consulate or Consular Agency of the United States or of Belgium.
They may also raise the flag of their country on their offices, except In the capital of the country when there is a legation there. The may in like manner, raise the flag of their country over the boat employed by them in the port for the exercise of their functions.
The consular offices shall at all times be inviolable. The local authorities shall not, under any pretext, invade them. In no case shall they examine or seize the papers there deposited. In no case shall those offices be used as places of asylum. When a consular officer in engaged in other business, the papers relating to the consulate shall be kept separate.
In the event of the death, incapacity or absence of Consuls-General Consuls, Vice-Consuls and Consular Agents, their chancellors or secretaries, whose official character may have previously been mad known to the Department of State at Washington, or to the Minister for Foreign Affairs in Belgium, may temporarily exercise their functions, and while thus acting they shall enjoy all the rights, prerogatives and immunities granted to the incumbents.
Consuls-General and Consuls may. so far as the laws of their country allow, with the approbation of their respective governments, appoint vice-consuls and consular agents in the cities, ports and places, within their consular jurisdiction. These agents may be selected from among citizens of the United States or of Belgium, or those of other countries. They shall be furnished with a regular commission, and shall enjoy the privileges stipulated for consular offices in this convention, subject to the exceptions specified in Articles III. and IV.
Consuls-General, Consuls, Vice-Consuls and Consular Agents, shall have the right to address the administrative and judicial authorities, whether in the United States, of the Union, the States or the municipalities, or in Belgium, of the State, the province or the commune, throughout the whole extent of their consular jurisdiction, in order to complain of any infraction of the treaties and conventions between the United States and Belgium, and for the purpose of protecting the rights and interests of their countrymen. If the complaint should not be satisfactorily redressed, the consular officers aforesaid, in the absence of a diplomatic agent of their country, may apply directly to the, government of the country where they exercise their functions.
Consuls-General, Consuls, Vice-Consuls and Consular Agents may take at their offices, at their private residence, at the residence of the parties, or on board ship, the depositions of the captains and crews of vessels of their own country, of passengers on board of them, and of any other citizen of their nation. They may also receive at their offices, conformably to the laws and regulations of their country, all contracts between the citizens of their country and the citizens or other inhabitants of the country where they reside, and even all contracts between the latter, provided they relate to property situated or to business to be transacted in the, territory of the nation to which the said consular officer may belong.
Such papers and official documents of every kind, whether in the original, in copies, or in translation, duly authenticated and legalized by the Consuls-General, Consuls, Vice-Consuls and Consular Agents, and sealed with their official seal, shall be received as legal documents in courts of justice throughout the United States and Belgium.
The respective Consuls-General, Consuls, Vice-Consuls and Consular Agents shall have exclusive charge of the internal order of the merchant vessels of their nation, and shall alone take cognizance of all differences which may arise, either at sea or in port, between the captains, officers and crews, without exception, particularly in reference to the adjustment of wages and the execution of contracts. The local authorities shall not interfere except when the disorder that has arisen is of such a nature as to disturb tranquillity and public order on shore, or in the port, or when a person of the country or not belonging to the crew shall be concerned therein.
In all other cases, the aforesaid authorities shall confine themselves to lending aid to the Consuls and Vice-Consuls or Consular Agents, if they are requested by them to do so, in causing the arrest and imprisonment of any person whose name is inscribed on the crew-list, whenever, for any cause, the said officers shall think proper.
The respective Consuls-General, Consuls, Vice-Consuls and Consular Agents may cause to be arrested the officers, sailors, and all other persons making part of the crews, in any manner whatever, of shi of war or merchant vessels of their nation, who may be guilty, or accused, of having deserted said ships and vessels, for the purpose o sending them on board or back to their country. To this end they shall address the competent local authorities of the respective countries, in writing, and shall make to them a written request for the deserters, supporting it by the exhibition of the register of the vessel and list of the crew, or by other official documents, to show that the persons claimed belong to the said ship's company.
Upon such request alone thus supported, the delivery to them of the deserters cannot be refused, unless it should be duly proved that they were citizens of the country where their extradition is demanded the time of their being inscribed on the crew-list. All the necessary aid and protection shall be furnished for the pursuit, seizure and a rest of the deserters, who shall even be put and kept in the prison of the country, at the request and expense of the consular office, until there may be an opportunity for sending them away. If, however, such an opportunity should not present itself within the space of three months, counting from the day of the arrest, the deserter shall be set at liberty, nor shall they be again arrested for the same cause.
If the deserter has committed any misdemeanor, and the court having the right to take cognizance of the offence shall claim and exercise it, the delivery of the deserter shall be deferred until the decision the court has been pronounced and executed.
In the absence of an agreement to the contrary between the owners, freighters and insurers, all damages suffered at sea by the vessels the two countries, whether they enter port voluntarily, or are forced by stress of weather, shall be settled by the Consuls-General. Consuls, Vice-Consuls and Consular Agents of the respective countries If, however, any inhabitant of the country or citizen or subject of a third power, shall be interested in the matter, and the parties cannot agree, the competent local authorities shall decide.
All proceedings relative to the salvage of vessels of the United States wrecked upon the coasts of Belgium, and of Belgian vessels wrecked upon the coasts of the United States, shall be directed the Consuls-General, Consuls and Vice-Consuls of the two countries respectively, and until their arrival, by the respective consular agent wherever an agency exists. In the places and ports where an agent does not exist, the local authorities, until the arrival of the consul whose district the wreck may have occurred, and who shall be immediately informed of the occurrence, shall take ail necessary measures for the protection of persons and the preservation of wrecked property.
The local authorities shall not otherwise interfere than for the maintenance of order, the protection of the interests of the salvors if these do not belong to the crews that have been wrecked and to carry into effect the arrangements made for the entry and exportation of in the merchandise saved.
It is understood that such merchandise is not to be subjected to any custom-house charges, unless it be intended for consumption in the country where the wreck may have taken place.
The intervention of the local authorities in these different cases shall occasion no expense of any kind, except such as may be caused by the operations of salvage and the preservation of the goods saved, together with such as would be incurred under similar circumstances by vessels of the nation.
In case of the death of any citizen of the United States in Belgium, or of a citizen of Belgium in the United States, without having any known heirs or testamentary executor by him appointed, the competent local authorities shall give information of the circumstance to the consuls or consular agents of the nation to which the deceased belongs, in order that the necessary information may be immediately forwarded to parties interested.
Consuls-General, Consuls, Vice-Consuls and Consular Agents shall have the right to appear, personally or by delegate, in all proceedings on behalf of the absent or minor heirs, or creditors, until they are duly represented.
The present convention shall remain in force for the space of ten years, counting from the day of the exchange of the ratifications which shall be made in conformity with the respective constitutions of the two countries, and exchanged at Washington as soon as possible within the period of six months. In case neither party gives notice, twelve months before the expiration of the said period of ten years. Of its intention not to renew this convention, it shall remain in force one year longer, and so on from year to year, until the expiration of a year from the day on which one of the parties shall have given such notice.
In faith whereof, the respective Plenipotentiaries have signed this convention. and have hereunto affixed their seals.
Done at Washington, in duplicate, the ninth of March, one thousand eight hundred and eighty.
(1) Wildenhus Case (120 U. S. Rep., 1).Back
Treaties, Conventions, International Acts and Agreements Between the United States of America and Other Powers 1776-1909.
Compiled by William M. Malloy
Under Resolution of the Senate of January 18, 1909
Washington : Government Printing Office, 1910.