How are crimes involving civilians dealt with on US overseas military bases?
July 21, 2012 2:43 AM   Subscribe

How are crimes involving civilians dealt with on US overseas military bases?

Just curious. So for example, I assume if anyone in a US uniform murdered another person in the military, it would be handled by the UCMJ. But I don't know what happens (who would investigate the crime, and what court would handle) when:

1) Someone in the military kills a US civilian on the base.
2) A US civilian kills a US soldier.
3) A US civilian kills another US civilian on the base.
4) A US civilian kills a Japanese civilian (on a base in Japan or on a base in Afghanistan.)
5) A British civilian kills a Japanese civilian (on a US base in Afghanistan.)
6) A US civilian infringes on a US patent on a base.

Also, are constitutional rights applicable to US civilians on US bases? Are US civilians on US bases overseas guaranteed the right to free speech?

Also, is Guantanamo Bay treated as just another US base? Or is it in some gray area? Are 1-6 still still the same if the crime was committed at Guantanamo?

And I assume local laws of the country don't apply to the base itself, but if this isn't so, please tell me.
posted by SouthCNorthNY to Law & Government (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
One last thing, are special offers, lets say for Subway sandwiches, valid on US bases (assuming the line "at participating Subways" was omitted for some reason) if the fine print only specifies stores "in the U.S., Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands only"?
posted by SouthCNorthNY at 2:56 AM on July 21, 2012

I don't know about Subway, but the particulars of who gets prosecuted by whom under what circumstances are generally governed by agreements we have with the host countries.
posted by wierdo at 3:58 AM on July 21, 2012

At least some of your examples are covered by the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).
posted by Houstonian at 6:05 AM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Houstonian is right. When I was in Korea it was drummed into our heads that the response to anything we did would be dealt with under SOFA, and that we shouldn't expect some sort of immunity to local law.
posted by HuronBob at 7:27 AM on July 21, 2012

US persons who commit a crime overseas are definitely subject to laws of local jurisdictions. For civilians, that's usually where it ends.* Military members also have to deal with the UCMJ, but many cases the military will defer to local host nation authorities in the case of criminal infractions. That does not mean, however, that additional strictly military impositions of punishment won't be levied (e.g. reduction in rank, loss of "good conduct" time).

*The notable exception is in active combat zones. Civilians (whether they be civil servants or contractors) may be subject to UCMJ jurisdiction, especially in cases where no effective local civil authority exists.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 10:13 AM on July 21, 2012

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