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Mr. MothercountryThe Man Who Made the Rule of Law$
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Keally McBride

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190252977

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190252977.001.0001

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Lawless Places and Placeless Law

Lawless Places and Placeless Law

Stephen, Sierra Leone, and Extraterritoriality

(p.64) 3 Lawless Places and Placeless Law
Mr. Mothercountry

Keally McBride

Oxford University Press

Sierra Leone provides the scene of this case study that demonstrates the emergence of a key tenet of international law: extraterritorial jurisdiction. There was a fundamental tension between the British desire to control the volatile region in West Africa, and Stephen’s mission to adhere strictly to the rules of sovereignty, territory, and legality. This chapter explains this tension and its ultimate resolution. British criminality rapidly rose around the globe in the 1830s and 1840s, and in the regions outside of Sierra Leone trying to control this behavior provoked a crisis of jurisdiction. Over Stephen’s objections, the solution developed for controlling British criminality was the Foreign Jurisdiction Act of 1843, stating that British citizens would be subject to British law even though they were outside of Britain. In effect, the British created a legal principle that asserted that their might made British rights wherever they cared to declare them.

Keywords:   Sierra Leone, criminality, Foreign Jurisdiction Act, deterritorialization, extraterritorial jurisdiction

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