The International Cruise Victims Association
Victims group questions cruise crime data provided by FBI
SAMMAMISH, Wash. - The International Cruise Victims Association, Inc. (ICV), a not-for-profit corporation formed by victims and families of victims of cruise ship crime, and the voice promoting safety on cruise ships, announces that they have called into question the fact that despite their many trips to Washington, D.C., the submission of written material, and video conferences with the FBI and U.S. Coast Guard, their recommendations as well as the true intent of the CVSSA (Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act) are being ignored.
One example of concern for ICV is that the intent of the CVSSA was that all alleged crimes should be reported just as they are on land in the United States so that potential cruise passengers could judge for themselves the safety of a cruise vacation.
According to a front-page article by Robert Anglen in the Arizona Republic's June 10, 2012, edition, crime reporting language was added at the request of the FBI and the Coast Guard. The article quotes Whitney Smith, press secretary for Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., as saying that the agencies "feared that reporting on pending cases could impact ongoing investigations and endanger lives and efforts to bring criminals to justice.”
Why would the reporting of alleged crimes as practiced throughout the United States affect the FBI’s efforts at sea? ICV is concerned over who might benefit from these changes and other provisions not being properly enforced. Clearly, not the U.S. citizens, but the cruise line industry would be the beneficiary.
Without a doubt, ICV believes the change in the wording substantially altered the intent of the original legislation. Through a Freedom of Information Act request from Kendall Carver, Chairman, on behalf of the ICV, submitted before the CVSSA was passed, material was obtained showing over 400 alleged crimes being reported to the FBI over a one-year period of time. However, last year, after the passage of the legislation to protect U.S. cruise ship passengers, a total of only 16 crimes were reported on the Coast Guard website for the entire year of 2011. In the past nine months, only six crimes have been reported on the website.
Carver indicated the following, “One of ICV’s major accomplishments has been the passage of the CVSSA in July 2010, which was passed because of the efforts of the victims and families of ICV. They did this in spite of the fact that the cruise industry spent millions to hire professional lobbyists to undercut this legislation. In contrast, ICV, with no paid staff and limited funds, traveled to Washington at their own expense to lobby for this much-needed legislation. It has been, for ICV, like David and Goliath going up against this giant industry. To see various provisions ignored or not enforced makes it a sad day for all Americans.”
Clearly, the ICV goal is to continue to work with these agencies, but together in good faith so that all U.S. citizens might experience the safety and security they deserve and rightfully assume is theirs.