Reprisals - Encyclopedia

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REPRISALS (Fr. represailles, from reprendre; Lat. reprehendere, to take back), properly speaking, the act of forcibly seizing something belonging to another state by way of retaliation, but currently used for the retaliation itself. They are acts of violence which are a cases belli according to the manner in which the state against which they are exercised regards them and is able to resist or resent them. Two comparatively recent cases have occurred in which this form of redress was resorted to. In the one case a demand by the British government for an indemnity for injuries inflicted on the British vice-consul and certain other British subjects by Nicaraguan authorities in the Mosquito reserve not having been complied with, British naval forces were landed on April 27th, 1895, at Corinto, where they occupied the customs house and other public buildings till an agreement was arrived at. In the other case the French government in November 1901 ordered the occupation by French naval forces of the customs house at Mytilene until redress was obtained for divers claims of French citizens. A Hague Convention of 1907 now places limitations on the employment of force for the recovery of contract debts, and forbids recourse to armed force unless "the debtor state refuses or neglects to reply to an offer of arbitration, or after accepting the offer prevents any compromise from being agreed on, or after arbitration fails to submit to the award" (art. I). (T. BA.)

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