Some Criminal Offenses Committed Overseas by DOD Civilians Are Not Being Prosecuted:

Legislation Is Needed

FPCD-79-45: Published: Sep 11, 1979. Publicly Released: Sep 11, 1979.

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International law recognizes that a host country has criminal jurisdiction over U.S. military personnel stationed in that country. Negotiated agreements allowing the United States to exercise jurisdiction over service members stationed overseas give it criminal jurisdiction over many offenses committed by service members that otherwise would have been prosecuted by the foreign country or not prosecuted at all. The United States has virtually no criminal jurisdiction over the 343,000 civilian personnel and dependents accompanying the armed forces overseas. These civilians are subject to foreign criminal jurisdiction which is not always exercised.

GAO analyses indicate that the actions taken by the Department of Defense (DOD) in the military cases may be inadequate. Military officials believe that the civilians' knowledge that the United States does not have criminal jurisdiction is an encouragement to offenders. Many military commanders dispose of these offenses through administrative sanctions which are inadequate in terms of punishment and deterrency and safeguarding an individual's rights. The strongest administrative sanctions are often directed against the military member/sponsor, and not the civilian offender.

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