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Yes, it’s true, a cruise ship worker stands accused of raping, beating, and trying to throw a passenger overboard Friday morning. Many of our readers already know the chatter on the Hill.
And that chatter is that the industry can easily target potential political sponsors of the enhanced Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act. Some pundits say they can be bribed for perhaps as little as $25,000 in campaign contributions.
In other words, they could vote “no” to upset much-needed legislation. And this would be in exchange for advertising money to get re-elected.
Because of this, many politicians will refuse to protect U.S. passengers. Does this prove money can buy anything? We will keep digging up facts on donations and vote shifting. Afterward, we will report back. At any rate, you can decide.
On 2/11/14, Rep Corrine Brown argued with Rep John Garamendi over issues like whether the cruise industry should install mandated man overboard systems. After all, the law has required them to do so since 2010 under the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act.
Since there were no enforcement provisions with teeth, the cruise industry has refused to implement many provisions of the 2010 Cruise Ship Safety Act. Only one organization, ICV, or the International Cruise Victims, is doing the legwork to fix the problems with the last bill.
But they are an anomaly. Most of all, these laws need enforcement provisions. In other words, they lack teeth. Teeth would mean adding a fine or a penalty. It is a waste of time to pass laws that are ignored with impunity.
Since there were no enforcement provisions with teeth, the cruise industry is just not implementing many of the 2010 Cruise Ship Safety Act requirements. Only one organization, ICV, or the International Cruise Victims, is doing the legwork to fix the problems with the last bill. But they are an all-volunteer crew of victims who, on their dime, lobby D.C.
I was fortunate enough to have lobbied with these downtrodden souls on the last round of tromping through the halls of Congress seeking support. But let’s face it, the cruise industry has billions, and victims on their own, cannot pay $25,000 to a re-election campaign for some politician or many.
Those are the grim, cold facts. In any event, Garamendi called for the enforcement of protections already required under U.S. Laws but not enforced. And Brown went so far as to accuse Garamendi of “grandstanding.”
Many of us attorneys at Ehline Law have suspected that a percentage of these “lost at sea” cases arose from a crew or a crew member or passenger raping someone. Why? Because with no man overboard system, the rapist would toss a person overboard, leaving no trace.
Cruise lines are notorious for failing to turn over digital and video images of crimes aboard cruises. Even when the FBI demands them, the cruise lines have pushed back. But why?
So it is a no-brainer that a criminal eliminating a body overboard would quickly cover up a crime. In any event, the 2010 Bill required all cruise ships to install “man overboard systems.“ It is now 2014, and still nothing. But the cruise industry seems to be putting out two stories. This regard why the lines never recognized the four-year-old law. (Read more here.)
Garamendi went on to retort:
“I think it’s time for the consumers, millions of them, who are getting on these ships to know what they’re getting into,” … “he is the ranking member of the subcommittee overseeing maritime transportation. “To know the history, the good and the bad, of an individual ship” he said.
On the heels of the legislation above failing, another cruise member was arrested Sunday and has been identified as Ketut Pujayasa, age 28, a worker from Indonesia.
And, of course, he was attempting to toss a severely brutalized rape victim overboard. Sound familiar? The incident occurred on the M.S. Nieuw Amsterdam early Friday morning in the international waters off the coast of Roatan, Honduras, authorities said.
The MS Nieuw Amsterdam cruise liner departed from Fort Lauderdale on February 9th. From there on, it was a seven-day western Caribbean charter cruise. The attack victim was female. Her attacker was “Pujayasa.”
The raped woman said she was attacked in her stateroom. The cruise ship employee attempted to throw her from her balcony. So we can see there is an understanding by this employee that disposing of the woman is key to avoiding jail.
In any event, all these facts appear in the criminal complaint. The woman said that she escaped from the cruise worker. After that, she was helped by another passenger.
He said he left the woman’s stateroom but later turned himself in. So there you go. The man performed an honor killing and used disrespect as a basis to justify it. Whatever you want to call it, these are ideas from backward cultures.
In a news release, Holland America Cruise Line stated that they are working with authorities. And they said they wanted to understand how the incident occurred.
Also, they promised they would take additional measures to ensure this type of event does not happen again. Holland American Cruise Line CEO Stein Kruse said that at Holland American Line, our highest priority is the safety of our guests.
But the facts are:
“. . . we have a history of covering up crimes, flying criminally accused employees back to their home countries so U.S. authorities cannot arrest them, etc.”
This fact is just so sad and laughable from our perspective. Regulating the politically connected cruise ship industry has long been possible. But due to the fact these ships sail under foreign flags, not from U.S. territories, international maritime law applies.
Considering that most cruise ship passengers are North American, it stands to reason that most crimes are against them. But thanks to ICV, the cruise industry is under increased scrutiny from sages like Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who is at the front with Matsui.
Cruise lines know they are strictly liable. But they hold all the cards. If their employee tosses a body over the side, do you think they will be so happy to turn over the videotape? Think about it. That could cost the cruise lines millions of dollars.
The bottom line is that criminals know there is a hole in the security of ships. And that makes raping and tossing a drunk or passed-out victim relatively easy. Cruise lines recruit low-pay help, often from countries that culturally teach an uncovered woman is a harlot or dhimmi to be raped and used.
For example, in this case, the defendant hails from a country, Indonesia, where many men think that failure to wear a hijab is an “invitation to be raped.” (view source.)
So imagine a person seeing Western women in bikinis for the first time, who is not properly vetted in accepting that Western culture is different, etc., working aboard one of these ships.
There is often no way to conduct proper background checks on criminals. Is there even a computer background database in Syria? NO. What about Somalia or Ethiopia? No!
What we know is that many countries cruise ship employees hail from have no national system. And we also understand that these countries are often archaic, male-dominated societies bound by religious dogma. So many things, like rape, aren’t even a crime unless there are three male witnesses, etc.
Imagine these people getting aboard the ship as employees and then seeing a blonde woman in a bikini. So now what a Westerner would consider a predator has boarded. Next, this person learns its layout.
After that, they discover strategies and tactics from fellow citizens to get away with rape and murder. All that is left is a method to dispose of a body. Think like a lawyer. Follow the bodies.
I think cruise lines are not doing enough to vet male employees. This cultural difference is precisely the issue in many cases. So this hypothetical and others can easily take place. The cruise lines are tripping over a dollar to save a dime.
Cruise lines like to hire people who think $2 thousand a month is a lot of money. So they are their own worst enemy. They can already skirt U.S. tax laws. But the least they could do is install man-overboard systems.
That way, they could make it harder for the criminally minded to get away with rape and murder “without a trace.”
Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.