The International Space Station, ISS, in orbit around the world, is a joint project of five different space agencies: US NASA, Russia’s Rka, European ESA, Japan’s Jaxa and Canada’s Csa-Asc. It’s a great example of international cooperation and harmony, but let’s say the fight should arise during a Monopoly match. The Americans fight with the Russians, the Japanese defend themselves with judo shots, and others are armed with fire extinguishers torn from the walls. The situation deteriorates and the dead man flees. Which country should prosecute and convict any perpetrators?
Theoretically – and only in relation to the International Space Station – the circumstances were thought out and resolved, within certain limits, from a legal point of view. The International Convention for the Operation of the Station basically stipulates that each country will process its “own”, so that each astronaut on the International Space Station is subject to the legal jurisdiction of their country.
As is probably clear, this is more an expression of goodwill than a real solution applicable to complex criminal acts. The framers of the agreement, in their hearts, seem to have believed that the meticulously chosen astronauts sent to the International Space Station would have behaved like little angels, except for a priori criminal behavior.
Then, of course, in 2019, the crime on the station happened – or rather, it could have happened. US astronaut Anne McClain has been accused by his estranged wife on Earth of “identity theft” for trying to access bank accounts by illegally using her ex-husband’s ID and password from space. The case was simplified by the fact that both the accused and the accused held the same US citizenship and US jurisdiction was easy to enforce. However, this matter increasingly took on the features of a petty local dispute, and in the end the accusations turned out to be false.
In general, let us not leave the problems and defects of humanity behind just because we left the Earth. Space really is an ultimate frontier, and as such mostly lawless and without deans…
“Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst.”