Congress takes aim at cruise-ship crime

I they are not reporting rapes and assaults what’s the chance they are reporting environmental crimes?


Saturday, June 21, 2008 – Page updated at 12:00 AM

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Cruise ship passengers who become crime victims at sea may get help from lawmakers this month.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who chaired a Senate subcommittee hearing on cruise ship safety, said he plans to introduce a bill seeking to improve safety and crime reporting standards within the cruise industry.

“Passenger safety should be the top priority for the cruise line industry, and it’s clear that they have work to do,” Kerry said Thursday in a written statement.

Earlier Congressional hearings have illuminated problems with safety aboard cruise ships, including that cruise employees aren’t trained to handle crime scenes and investigations.

Cruise rape victim Laurie Dishman of Sacramento, Calif., has told her story to lawmakers in Washington, D.C., in order to raise awareness of cruise crimes.

“No woman should have to go through what I went through when I was raped,” she said in a phone interview Thursday.

As part of a U.S. Coast Guard act, a legislative effort requiring cruise lines to notify the Department of Homeland Security of all alleged crimes involving U.S. citizens aboard cruise ships and make the information available in an online database has passed the House and is being reviewed in the Senate. Proponents of the legislation say cruise lines have fought legislative efforts requiring them to report such information.

Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., who last year hosted subcommittee hearings in the House, is helping to craft the new bill, Kerry said, noting it will be introduced this month in both the Senate and the House.

At present, cruise lines voluntarily report serious crimes to the FBI. From April 1, 2007, through April 30 this year, 489 incidents were reported, according to the Gannet News Service. They included 1 suspicious death; 8 U.S. citizens who have gone missing; 26 assaults with serious bodily injury and 83 sexual assaults.

“Passenger safety is and always will be our No. 1 priority,” Terry Dale, president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association, said at the hearing Thursday. The organization represents 24 cruise lines. .

Dale testified, “Our care and compassion in the past toward those who have suffered injury or loss has not always been satisfactory. However, we have made great strides to improve our procedures.”

The organization did not state its position on efforts to beef up the industry’s crime reporting requirements.

Dale noted efforts to improve safety have included meeting with crime victims to exchange ideas and training employees on how to respond to crimes and manage crime scenes. “Americans are extremely safe at sea today,” he said.

Other witnesses at the hearing included Ken Carver of the International Cruise Victims Association, Evelyn Fortier, vice president of policy for Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network and Memorial University of Newfoundland professor Ross Klein, who has studied cruise ship crime. All have pushed for more transparency in the cruise line industry.

“The industry is trying to say crimes are so low we don’t need to do anything,” Carver said. “Well, if crimes are so low, than it should be public information.”

~ by fredfelleman on June 24, 2008.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: