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Supporters angry over altered cruise safety bill

Injuries and accidents that happen offshore, on a cruise ship for example, fall under a different set of laws. Maritime laws include special provisions for workers and tourists who are suffer a maritime injury. Some of these laws can be quite complex, however, and many people are invested in understanding the letter of these laws, especially when they involve safety. Miami victims of cruise accidents or crimes are among those concerned with the transparency of onboard crime reporting.

Recently, critics of the cruise ship industry were surprised to find out that a cruise safety and security bill they had previously supported was changed immediately before it was passed. The revision of the bill, they say, makes it less effective.

Originally, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act was developed to provide more transparent reporting of onboard crimes. A website would be developed for the public to access and view the number of alleged crimes and cases of missing persons that have been reported. It is estimated that prior to the passing of the bill, hundreds of onboard crimes have been reported.

When the chairman of the International Cruise Victims Association logged on to the new website, though, he discovered a huge discrepancy between the numbers on the website and his own records. He then discovered that the language in the bill was changed before it was passed.

Under the new law, only crimes that are no longer being investigated by the FBI are reported on the site. It also omits crimes of theft of less than $10,000 and cases in which the FBI has no jurisdiction. Instead of the hundreds of reports of crimes and missing persons the chairman expected to find, he says there were only 16 incidents reported in 2011.

This protocol of crime reporting is not effective, many argue. Instead of helping members of the public, the new law only benefits the cruise industry by making it appear as though cruise ships are safer than they actually may be. Supporters of the original version of the bill are continuing their efforts to try and push for better, more transparent reporting measures.

Source: The Miami Herald, "Victim advocates: public reporting of cruise crimes insufficient," Hannah Sampson, June 19, 2012

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