by Sabrina Sadler, Social Outreach Intern
Have you ever gone on a cruise or thought about going on a cruise? Did you ever think of crimes happening on a cruise?
I came across the following article that introduces The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act. This bill would “initiate a new Website, with reports updated quarterly on the number of crimes, their nature, and whether or not passengers or crew members are implicated. Each cruise line must also link to the crime statistics page from its Website.”
The second part of this article that I found to be important was that sexual assault occurs on these cruise ships, thankfully the law requires that these vessels carry rape investigation kits and hire or train an employee to preserve the evidence. It is unfortunate that cruise ships would even need these precautions but I am pleased to see that it is the law.
Bill would tighten crime reporting for cruises
Legislation would force lines to report on rapes, robberies, other crimes
updated 8:53 a.m. PT, Fri., July 31, 2009
MIAMI - Vacationers shopping for a cruise might soon have more things to consider than prices and itineraries. They may be able to compare the number of passengers allegedly raped, robbed or lost at sea under a bill approved Thursday for a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure committee's unanimous approval of the measure, following a Senate committee's passage, clears the way for a vote in both chambers shortly after Congress returns from its August recess.
The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act tightens restrictions on an industry that has long evaded much scrutiny — in part because of the complexity of international maritime law.
The industry initially opposed the bill, but the Cruise Lines International Association changed its stance. CLIA says most companies already follow many of the provisions — like sharing crime data with the Coast Guard — and some other components are already addressed under existing federal law.
"Millions of passengers each year enjoy a safe cruise vacation, and while serious incidents are rare, even one incident is one too many," CLIA said in a written statement. "As an industry, we are fully committed to the safety and security of our passengers and crew."
Because the industry has refused to release data to the public, the actual crime rate aboard the vessels is unknown but seems low. According to a U.S. House of Representatives memo from 2007, cruise industry executives testified that 178 people in North America reported sexual assaults from 2003 to 2005, and 24 passengers went missing. Compared with about 26 million passengers sailing during the period, those figures amount to crime rates far lower than the national average.
Because sexual assault is among the most frequently alleged crimes — and crew members are often alleged to be the perpetrators — the law requires that each ship carry rape investigation kits and hire or train an employee to preserve evidence.
Ken Carver, who brought the issue to Kerry's attention, started a nonprofit called International Cruise Victims after his daughter disappeared on a ship in 2005. He says he was lied to and stonewalled as he tried to learn what happened to her. Other passengers have related similar stories in testimony before Congress.
"In the past three years, I have met far too many American families which have incurred tragedy during what ought to be a relaxing vacation," Matsui said. "For far too long, American families have unknowingly been at risk on cruise ships."
The Secretary of Transportation would initiate a new Web site under the bill with reports updated quarterly on the number of crimes, their nature and whether passengers or crew members are implicated. Each cruise line must also link to the crime statistics page from its Web site.