Crime on Cruise Ships Addressed in New Law

On Behalf of | Aug 1, 2010 | News

The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010, aimed at strengthening safety and reporting standards, was signed by President Obama last week.

Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010

The new law requires the cruise industry to install video surveillance systems in common areas, as well as door viewers and security latches on cabin doors.

Each ship must carry equipment and materials to perform sexual assault medical exams and to collect forensic evidence. Ships also need to have drugs to prevent sexually transmitted diseases after an assault.

Another provision requires cruise ships to log and report all deaths, missing persons, alleged crimes and complaints involving some thefts, sexual attacks and assaults involving U.S. citizens.

Those records will be available to the FBI and the Coast Guard electronically and to all law enforcement officers upon request. The Department of Homeland Security will make cruise line crime statistics available to the public.

Crimes in the United States are generally investigated without regard to the citizenship of the victim or suspect. At sea, citizenship is a factor that can lead to confusion and dropped investigations. To that end, a 17-year-old Canadian boy said a fellow passenger on the Caribbean Princess grabbed the boy’s crotch in an elevator. The day before, the same man touched himself inappropriately in front of the teenager at the spa, the incident report said.

The ship sailed from Port Everglades, and the case was referred to the FBI by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and Princess Cruises. The FBI said the incident did not rise to the level of federal prosecution.

Nothing further was done to investigate the accused man, a Mexican citizen living in Pinecrest and working at a recreational park for children, according to the incident report filed with the Broward Sheriff’s Office.

Nearly five years ago, a few people who had lost members of their family on cruise ships formed the International Cruise Victims Association and quickly began advocating for increased regulation on the cruise industry. The group laid the groundwork for many provisions included in the new cruise law.

The new is significant in that it addresses crimes after they occur, and may lead to more prosecutions.. However, the bigger issue is preventing crimes in the first instance. The cruise line industry is notorious for their hiring practices, or better said lack thereof. These floating cities hire mostly foreign workers to man their ships. No background investigation is done prior to employing these workers. So while the new law will help with prosecutions, the cruise lines will continue to get sued for negligent security measures and negligent hiring practices.

As a Miami Personal injury lawyer, I have handled a number of negligent security cases, and the issue will always focus on the prior knowledge of the employer for the employes propensity to commit these criminal acts. With the use of qualified experts we have been successful in proving the Employer’s knowledge of prior crimes, or showing the complete disregard for taking proper security measures including but not limited to conducting background investigations on potential employees.

Mark Kaire has been practicing law in Miami for nearly 30 years. He is dedicated to helping the injured people of Miami receive compensation. Mr. Kaire has been blogging on Miami’s legal issues for many years.