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Art. 20. A neutral vessel carrying hostile dispatches, when sailing as a dispatch vessel practically in the service of the enemy, is liable to seizure. Mail steamers under neutral flags carrying such dispatches in the regular and customary manner, either as a part of their mail in their mail bags, or separately as a matter of accommodation and without special arrangement or remuneration, are not liable to seizure and should not be detained, except upon clear grounds of suspicion of a violation of the laws of war with respect to contraband, blockade, or unneutral service, in which case the mail bags must be forwarded with seals unbroken.
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HOSPITAL SHIPS — THE SHIPWRECKED, SICK, AND WOUNDED
ART. 21. Military hospital ships — that is to say, vessels constructed or fitted out by the belligerent States for the special and sole purpose of assisting the wounded, sick, or shipwrecked, and whose names have been communicated to the respective Powers at the opening or in the course of hostilities, and in any case before they are so employed, shall be respected, and are not liable to capture during the period of hostilities.
Such ships shall not be classed with warships, with respect to the matter of sojourn in a neutral port.
ART. 22. Hospital ships fitted out, in whole or in part, at the expense of private individuals, or of officially recognized relief societies, shall likewise be respected and exempt from capture, provided the belligerent Power to whom they are subject has given them an official commission and has notified the hostile Power of the names of such ships at the beginning or in the course of hostilities, and in any case before they are employed.
These ships should be furnished with a certificate, issued by the proper authorities, setting forth that they were under the control of such authorities during their equipment and at the time of their final departure.
ART. 23. The vessels mentioned in Articles 21 and 22 shall afford relief and assistance to the wounded, sick, and shipwrecked of the belligerents without distinction of nationality.
It is strictly forbidden to use these vessels for any military purpose.
These vessels must not in any way hamper the movements of the combatants.
During and immediately after engagements they act at their own risk and peril.
The belligerents have the right to control and visit such vessels; they may decline their coöperation, require them to withdraw, prescribe for them a fixed course, and place a commissioner on board ; they may even detain them, if required by military necessity.
When practicable, the belligerents shall enter upon the log of hospital ships such orders as they may give them.
ART. 24. Military hospital ships shall be distinguished by being painted white outside, with a horizontal band of green about 14 meters wide.
The ships designated in Article 22 shall be distinguished by being painted white outside, with a horizontal band of red about 11 meters wide.
The boats of hospital ships, as well as small craft that may be devoted to hospital service, shall be distinguished by being painted in the same colors.
Hospital ships shall, in general, make themselves known by hoisting, with their national flag, the white flag with a red cross prescribed by the Geneva Convention.
ART. 25. Merchant vessels, yachts, or neutral vessels that happen to be in the vicinity of active maritime hostilities, may gather up the wounded, sick, or shipwrecked of the belligerents. Such vessels, after this service has been performed, shall report to the belligerent commander controlling the waters thereabouts, for future directions, and while accompanying a belligerent will be, in all cases, under his orders; and if a neutral, be designated by the national flag of that belligerent carried at the foremasthead, with the red cross fåg flying immediately under it.
These vessels are subject to capture for any violation of neutrality that they may commit. Any attempt to carry off such wounded, sick, and shipwrecked, without permission, is a violation of neutrality. They are also subject, in general, to the provisions of Article 23.
ART. 26. The religious, medical, and hospital personnel of any vessel captured during hostilities shall be inviolable and not subject to be made prisoners of war. They shall be permitted, upon leaving the ship, to carry with them those articles and instruments of surgery which are their private property.
Such personnel shall continue to exercise their functions as long as may be necessary, whereupon they may withdraw when the commander in chief deems it possible to do so.
The belligerents shall insure to such personnel, when falling into their hands, the free exercise of their functions, the receipt of salaries, and entire freedom of movement, unless a military necessity prevents.
ART. 27. Sailors and soldiers, embarked when sick or wounded, shall be protected and cared for by the captors, no matter to what nation they may belong.
ART. 28. The shipwrecked, wounded, or sick of the enemy, who are captured, are considered prisoners of war. The captor must decide, according to circumstances, whether it is expedient to keep them or send them to a port of his own country, to a neutral port, or even to a port of the enemy. In the last case, the prisoners thus returned to their country can not serve again during the period of the war.
ART. 29. The shipwrecked, wounded, or sick, who are landed at a neutral port with the consent of the local authorities, shall, unless there exist an agreement to the contrary between the neutral State and the belligerent States, agree that they will not again take part in the operations of war.
The expenses of hospital care and of internment shall be borne by the State to which such shipwrecked, wounded, or sick belong.
THE EXERCISE OF THE Right OF SEARCH ART. 30. The exercise of the right of search during war shall be confined to properly commissioned and authorized vessels of war. Convoys of neutral merchant vessels, under escort of vessels of war of their own State, are exempt from the right of search, upon proper assurances, based on thorough examination, from the commander of the convoy.
ART. 31. The object of the visit or search of a vessel is: (1) To determine its nationality. (2) To ascertain whether contraband of war is on board.
(3) To ascertain whether a breach of blockade is intended or has been committed.
(4) To ascertain whether the vessel is engaged in any capacity in the service of the enemy.
The right of search must be exercised in strict conformity with treaty provisions existing between the United States and other States and with proper consideration for the vessel boarded.
ART. 32. The following mode of procedure, subject to any special treaty stipulations, is to be followed by the boarding vessel, whose colors must be displayed at the time:
The vessel is brought to by firing a gun with blank charge. If this is not sufficient to cause her to lie to, a shot is fired across the bows, and in case of flight or resistance force can be used to compel the vessel to surrender.
The boarding vessel should then send one of its smaller boats alongside, with an officer in charge wearing side arms, to conduct the search. Arms may be carried in the boat, but not upon the persons of the men. When the officer goes on board of the vessel he may be accompanied by not more than two men, unarmed, and he should at first examine the vessel's papers to ascertain her nationality, the nature of the cargo, and the ports of departure and destination. If the papers show contraband, an offense in respect of blockade, or enemy service, the vessel should be seized; otherwise she should be released, unless suspicious circumstances justify a further search. If the vessel be released, an entry in the log book to that effect should be made by the boarding officer.
ART. 33. Irrespective of the character of her cargo, or her purported destination, a neutral vessel should be seized if she:
(1) Attempts to avoid search by escape; but this must be clearly evident.
(2) Resists search with violence. (3) Presents fraudulent papers.
(4) Is not supplied with the necessary papers to establish the objects of search.
(5) Destroys, defaces, or conceals papers.
The papers generally expected to be on board of a vessel are:
(1) The register.