Target: John Boehner, United States Speaker of the House
Goal: Require cruise liners to report crimes to the Coast Guard
Cruise liners are not currently required to report or make public any crimes committed on their ships. A number of violent crimes have been committed on these ships, and no law enforcement action has been taken. A recent Senate bill that would correct this injustice is up for passage.
Recently West Virginia Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller introduced a bill that would protect cruise ship passengers and require crimes that occur on ships be made readily available to the public. The Cruise Passenger Protection Act puts high seas high rollers like Carnival and Royal on alert. Until now unbelievably low priority has been placed on the safety of those who spend sometimes months on a luxury liner. In 2007, acknowledging a need for change, measures were taken by the Coast Guard, the FBI, and cruise lines to improve procedures involving reported crimes. In response to homicide, suspicious death, sexual assaults, kidnapping, assault with bodily injury, and thefts of $10,000 or more, an agreement was made that ships will voluntarily report incidents such as these.
In 2010 Congress took a step further in requiring that the Coast Guard display statistical information on their website showing the number of alleged crimes reported. This can only be considered nonsense in the way of punishment. The site only makes the public aware of cases that are no longer under investigation, resulting in a overwhelming gap between the number of cases that are reported to the FBI and the number of cases that can be viewed publicly on the Coast Guard website. Since 2011 alone, out of 959 crimes reported only 31 made it to the website list. If this information isn’t alarming enough, a reported 18 percent of sexual assaults that occur are committed against minors. Once these crimes have been perpetrated the only source to reach out to are security officers employed by the ship. A serious conflict of interest might account for the extremely high number of unreported crimes.
Senator Rockefeller, Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has taken the lead in an attempt to bring justice where it should have been all along. The Cruise Passenger Protection Act aims the arrow directly at the mark of consumer protection. Introduction of the bill places vital demands on Congress to protect its citizens at sea. Passage of this act will bring justice to long overlooked legislative ground. Aside from victim assistance programs and heightened security measures, the bill calls for criminal punishment. Penalties of up to $50,000 for civil crimes, and $250,000 and prison time for criminal offenses will surely put a cap on criminal activity. The bill would also provide an on-board, toll free hotline for victims and requirements that cruise lines must provide the hotline number on their website, as well as in promotional information. Additionally, cruise lines will be forced to provide guests, via their booking website and before booking with an agent, a report of crimes that have occurred on their ships.
According to a government bill tracking website, this bill has only a 10 percent chance of being enacted. Sign the petition below to see that the seas are safe.
Dear John Boehner, Speaker of the House,
The introduction of the Cruise Passenger Protection Act is a long overdue among public protection issues. Heinous crimes are committed against passengers of cruise ships without any legal recourse. Criminals are allowed free range while at sea with no consequences once shore is reached. In the last year alone, incidents involving luxury liners have shown their lack of concern for passengers’ well being and safety.
The most recent quarterly report from Carnival and Royal Cruise Lines lists seven cases of bodily injury and sexual assaults, a large discrepancy in the number of crimes reported to the FBI by cruise ships. The voluntary reporting of crimes does not begin to amend the level of irresponsibility now being displayed.
The argument offered by cruise lines of a substantially lower crime rate is a poor excuse to put anyone in harm’s way. The rights of civilians should not be compromised because they are not on land. Passage of the Cruise Protection Act will provide voyagers with a higher level of physical safety and the security of knowing that crimes against them are punishable. See to it that the safety of all Americans is top priority for the United States government.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: KRBD