Mathieu Deflem. Handbook of Transnational Crime & Justice. Editor: Philip Reichel. Sage Publication. 2005.
In recent years, scholars of criminal justice and policing have devoted much attention to the growing impact of the interconnectedness of nations on the control and management of crime. A considerable literature now exists on the structures and processes of how police institutions and other agents of social control define and respond to the flow of criminal activities across national borders (e.g., Deflem, 2001; Koenig & Das, 2001; McDonald, 1997; Nadelmann, 1993; Passas, 1999; Sheptycki, 2000). International patterns of policing have historical foundations that date back to at least the 19th-century development of national states, when police and government authorities began to recognize the need for police cooperation across the boundaries of national jurisdictions (Deflem, 1996, 2000, 2002a, 2002b). Among the historical antecedents of international police cooperation were various efforts, especially on the European continent, to control the international spread of people and organizations that were held to be opponents of established political systems, such as socialists, democrats, liberals, and anarchists. It is the most striking development of international police cooperation from the latter part of the 19th century onward that police institutions gradually began to abandon the political objectives of early cooperation efforts to focus on enforcement of laws prohibiting acts of a distinctly criminal nature. It would, however, be incorrect to conclude that the shift toward criminal police cooperation involved a radical break from earlier political cooperation efforts. On the contrary, as shown in this chapter, available historical evidence indicates that the development and growth of international police cooperation for criminal enforcement duties was facilitated by prior practices of cooperation that had been initiated for political reasons.
Drawing on archival data on the history of international police cooperation from the mid-19th century onward, in this chapter I will analyze two case studies of police cooperation planned at the intergovernmental level of international law concerning matters of the control of anarchism and white slavery. These cases will serve to substantiate the argument that the political nature of early efforts to foster police cooperation paradoxically enabled the elaboration of international police cooperation for criminal enforcement duties, because they promoted a process of bureaucratization that led police institutions to independently develop the means and objectives of cooperation across national borders. I will first situate the case studies of the policing of anarchism and white slavery in its proper historical context.
The Age of International Police Cooperation
At the beginning of the 20th century, international police cooperation was not yet structured on a broad international scale, such as is the case today with the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) (Deflem, 2002a). In the United States, police duties with international dimensions were mostly related to specifically American circumstances associated with slavery, immigration, and the creation of national borders on the North American continent. Collaboration with European and other police located outside the United States occurred only on sporadic occasions. In Europe, international police practices were, from the middle of the 19th century onward, comparatively much more developed, yet they were organized on a rather limited basis with appeal to police institutions of a relatively small number of nations. Most European police cooperation until the early 20th century also concerned political tasks related to the protection of established conservative rule from suspected subversive political activities. Such was most clearly the case with the Police Union of German States, an international police organization that was active from 1851 until 1866 to suppress the political opposition from liberals, democrats, and socialists (Deflem, 1996, 2002a, pp. 45-62). The Police Union was able to attract cooperation from police of only seven German-language nations that were ideologically closely akin and politically united in a common federal union. Other efforts to formalize cross-border police collaboration in the 19th century likewise remained too closely tied to the political conditions within and among national states to garner broad international support.
Throughout the 19th century, attempts to promote international police cooperation on a broad multilateral scale were mostly organized at the level of international law rather than at the administrative level of police institutions. An expansion of international law was established through formal agreements reached between the governments of national states, but typically, such intergovernmental accords failed to be a basis for practical cooperation between police. At best, such agreements served as catalysts for the development of international policing if the formal provisions of international law were accompanied by informal arrangements separately worked out among police officials. International police collaboration on political matters and cooperation efforts instituted at the level of intergovernmental treaties share the characteristic that they will unavoidably mirror the political conditions of international affairs among national states and the characteristics of their diverse systems of law. Therefore, such political and legal forms of cooperation plans pose severe limitations to the scope of their international potential and do not allow participating police to move beyond the jurisdictional authority sanctioned by their respective governments.
However, even though international legal agreements remained without much consequence for practical police cooperation, toward the close of the 19th century there was a distinct trend noticeable in international police cooperation practices to focus away from political crimes toward more distinctly criminal police duties. Theoretically, this development can be conceptualized in terms of a bureaucratization process that has historically influenced police institutions to gain institutional independence from the governments of their respective states to develop and share knowledge systems of international crimes that need to be responded to through cooperation (Deflem, 2002a, pp. 12-34). The influence of police bureaucratization on international cooperation was clearly, albeit negatively, revealed in 1914, when the First Congress of International Criminal Police was held in Monaco (Deflem, 2002a, pp. 102-110). Although the meeting specifically aspired to foster international police cooperation on criminal matters, the attempt failed because it was still framed in terms of the provisions of international law rather than the bureaucratic model that police institutions had by then come to adopt. Not until the formation of the organization today known as Interpol, the International Criminal Police Commission in 1923, was international police cooperation successfully organized on a more permanent basis. The commission was oriented toward criminal enforcement duties and was independently established by the representatives of police institutions rather than their nations’ political authorities.
An increasing bureaucratization of police institutions had in the decades preceding the formation of the International Criminal Police Commission already begun to inspire new forms of international police cooperation that did not rely on principles of international law and that did not focus on political crimes. It may come as somewhat of a surprise, then, that an important multilateral effort to establish European-wide police cooperation would be attempted on a highly political issue, when as late as 1898 an international conference was held in Rome, Italy, to coordinate police measures against anarchism. Unveiling the causes and implications of the anti-anarchist conference will help explain this paradoxical development and bring out the ironic finding that international police cooperation for purposes of criminal enforcement, such as they continue to exist until this day, have origins in distinctly political efforts.
The Anti-Anarchist Conference of Rome, 1898
In the final decade of the 19th century, violent incidents inspired by radical political ideas shook the foundations of established autocratic regimes in Europe and accelerated international police activities with political objectives. It was partly in response to this “Decade of Regicide,” to borrow a term from historian Richard Jensen (2001, p. 16), that new attempts were made to establish international police cooperation with wide international representation in a form that would overcome difficulties relating to national sovereignty. Although in most respects these attempts were to be unsuccessful, they also signaled an important transformation in the history of international police cooperation, the impact of which would become clear during the first half of the 20th century.
The 1890s witnessed a revival of anarchist activities and, in response, police actions directed at suppressing them (Jensen, 2001; Liang, 1992, pp. 155-163). In the course of the decade, alleged anarchist incidents led to 60 killings and the wounding of some 200 people. Between March 1892 and June 1894, 11 bombing incidents killed 9 people in Paris alone. In 1893, police from France intercepted news about plans to assassinate Emperor Wilhelm II and Chancellor Caprivi of the German Empire and passed the information on to Berlin police. That same year, following bombings in Paris and Barcelona, negotiations were held between the French and Spanish governments to establish an international police organization against anarchism. But although authorities from England, Austria, and the German Empire indicated interest in joining the plan, it never came to fruition. Other anti-anarchist police measures were restricted to bilateral agreements. In 1898, for instance, French and Italian police exchanged information through their respective consulates about the possible connections between a bombing in Milan, a bank robbery in Paris, and a case of dynamite theft in Switzerland. On September 10, 1898, Empress Elisabeth of Austria was murdered by the Italian anarchist Luigi Lucheni, further intensifying concerns over the anarchist menace. A week after the assassination, the Austrian foreign minister, Goluchowsky, proposed to his Swiss colleague to form an anti-anarchist “international police league.” The Austrian-Swiss plan remained unexecuted, but a few weeks later, on September 29, 1898, the Italian government sent out invitations for an international conference to be held in Rome to organize the fight against anarchism.
The International Conference of Rome for the Social Defense Against Anarchists was held from November 24 to December 21, 1898, and was attended by 54 delegates from no less than 21 European countries, including all major powers, such as Great Britain, the German Empire, France, and Austria-Hungary (see Fijnaut, 1979, pp. 930-933; Jensen, 1981; Liang, 1992, pp. 163-169). The gathering was mostly attended by government representatives, but also present were police officials from the participating countries. The conference delegates discussed the formulation of an appropriate concept of anarchism, legislative measures against anarchism, and the development of international anti-anarchist police measures. The British government was the sole dissenter in signing a final protocol that was drafted at the meeting (U.K. Public Record Office [PRO], FO 881/7372). In the protocol, anarchism was defined as any act “having as its aim the destruction, through violent means, of all social organization” (PRO, FO 45/784). The protocol’s other resolutions included the introduction of legislation in the participating countries to prohibit the illegitimate possession and use of explosives, membership in anarchist organizations, the distribution of anarchist propaganda, and the rendering of assistance to anarchists. It was also agreed that governments should try to limit press coverage of anarchist activities and that the death penalty should be mandatory punishment for all assassinations of heads of state.
On matters of practical policing, the protocol from the Rome Conference included provisions to encourage participating governments to have police keep watch over anarchists, to establish in every participating country a specialized surveillance agency to achieve this goal, and to organize a system of information exchange among these national agencies. Furthermore, the countries that signed the final conference protocol agreed to adopt the portrait parlé method of criminal identification. A more sophisticated version of the bertillonage system invented by Alphonse Bertillon, the portrait parlé (spoken picture) was a method of identification that classified criminal suspects on the basis of measurements of parts of their head and body. Bertillonage measurements were expressed in numbers, which could be transmitted across nations by means of telephone and telegraph. In addition, the conference also approved a provision to extradite persons who had attempted to kill or kidnap a sovereign or head of state. The provision was referred to as the attentat (assassination) clause or Belgian clause and had first been introduced in Belgium in 1856 following a failed attempt to murder Napoleon III in 1854.
In November 1901, Russian authorities used the assassination of U.S. President McKinley by an anarchist in September of that year as a basis to revive the anti-anarchist program of the Rome Conference. Cosponsored by the German government, Russian officials sent out a memorandum to hold an international meeting on anarchism to the governments of various European countries as well as the United States. The initiative led to a second anti-anarchist meeting, held in March 1904 in St. Petersburg, then the capital of Russia, where the representatives of 10 countries, including Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Denmark, agreed on a Secret Protocol for the International War on Anarchism (Jensen, 1981, 2001). The agreement was later also adhered to by the governments of Portugal and Spain. Although France and Great Britain did not sign the St. Petersburg Protocol, the authorities of these countries did express their willingness to provide assistance with other states on police matters relating to anarchism. The U.S. government did not participate in the St. Petersburg meeting and declined to follow its provisions, although President Theodore Roosevelt had called for an international treatise to combat anarchism after the assassination of his predecessor.
The Depoliticization of International Policing
The anti-anarchist meetings of Rome and St. Petersburg occurred at a time when international police cooperation for political purposes had slowly but steadily been in decline (Deflem, 2002a, pp. 65-77). To explain this paradoxical situation, one must consider more precisely the manner in which the topic of anarchism was treated at the intergovernmental level and the actual consequences of the intergovernmental treaties in terms of legislation and police practice.
The fight against anarchism was evidently a matter of a decidedly political nature, especially when it included policies reaching beyond the control of criminal incidents inspired by anarchist motives. Aware of the politically sensitive nature of anarchism, the anti-anarchist meetings in Rome and St. Petersburg purposely conceived of anarchism as a strictly criminal matter, the enforcement of which was to be handled at the administrative level by police institutions. The Italian government’s invitation to the meeting downplayed the delicate and divisive issues involved with drawing up appropriate legislation and instead emphasized the practical police aspects involved, for which reason the invitation explicitly stated that “technical and administrative staff” would also be invited to the meeting (cited in Liang, 1992, p. 162). After the delegates at the Rome Conference had spent considerable time discussing a proper definition of anarchism, they ultimately settled on a broad and imprecise concept that sought to avoid any associations with political ideology. In the final protocol of the Rome Conference, it was stated that anarchism had “nothing in common with politics” and was not “under any circumstance to be regarded as a political doctrine” (PRO, FO 45/784).
However, although anarchism was formally depoliticized in order to accommodate many politically diverse national states and although the conference attendants promised to enact in their respective countries appropriate legislation, only a few countries actually passed new legislation based on the provisions of the Rome and St. Petersburg protocols. The aspiration to treat anarchism as a criminal matter could not be maintained at the level of the various national governments where the international treaties had to be ratified, because there the initiatives were injected into the ideological battles of intranational politics and their international implications. The official response from the French government to the Rome Conference, for instance, declined to approve any intergovernmental accord sanctioning international police cooperation on anarchism because of stated difficulties “from the political point of view” (quoted in Jensen, 1981, p. 345). In the French case, new legislation on anarchism was also redundant because France in many instances already had such legislation in place. Likewise indicating the political limitations of intergovernmental treaties, the main reason why the U.S. government did not participate in the international accord of the St. Petersburg meeting was the political animosity that existed among U.S. officials against Germany and Russia because of those countries’ perceived imperialist tendencies.
Next to the failure of the Rome and St. Petersburg treaties to influence anti-anarchist legislation in the various participating states, ideological divisions in international political affairs also posed certain limits to international police cooperation plans developed in function of those treaties. Most clearly, the participants of the Rome and St. Petersburg meetings could not agree on the creation of a central anti-anarchist intelligence bureau through which the exchange between the various national bureaus could be coordinated. Nationalist sentiments in Europe were too intense to accept the creation of a central bureau that would put the one country in which it was to be located at a marked advantage; the central bureau would be in the advantageous position of being the only office that would be connected with all other national bureaus. Instead, only a system of direct facilitation exchange between the various participating states was agreed on. In the case of the United States, even this system was too ambitious in the early 20th century because no federal U.S. police existed that would be sufficiently equipped to participate in such a cooperative arrangement (Deflem, 2002a, pp. 78-96; Jensen, 2001; Nadelmann, 1993).
Thus, ideological-political differences among the governmental powers of Europe prevented anti-anarchist legislation from being passed at the national levels and restricted the practical implications of related plans to foster international police cooperation. It is therefore correct to state that the international anti-anarchist treaties failed to influence legislation in the states that signed the accord because “national self-interests and rivalries edged out international concerns” (Jensen, 1981, p. 340). Yet it is equally important to observe how the Rome and St. Petersburg meetings did contribute to enhance practices of direct police communications across nations, the necessity of which was widely recognized. It is typical, for instance, that although the British government did not sign the Rome protocol, one of the British representatives at the conference, Howard Vincent, the former head of the Criminal Investigations Division at Scotland Yard, also acknowledged that direct police communications were beneficial “if only by forming reciprocal friendships leading to greater cooperation” (quoted in Jensen, 1981, p. 332). Among the agreements reached at the meetings was the establishing of anti-anarchist intelligence bureaus in several of the participating states. Police of Italy and Greece, for example, had such systems of information exchange up and running until the eve of World War I.
The relative success of the international anti-anarchist treaties in matters of international police practices is explained by the fact that the suggested system of information exchange was to be instituted and coordinated at the administrative level by police agencies. These provisions were conceived in technical and bureaucratic terms and not coined in the legal language of most of the other provisions. This was no coincidence, for while the delegates at the Rome and St. Petersburg meetings were mostly diplomats and other government representatives who negotiated with one another in a language of formal systems of law rooted in jurisdictional authority, the anti-anarchist methods of information exchange that had successfully been worked out had been decided on by police officials meeting separately in informal gatherings on several days when the conference took place (PRO, FO 881/7179). The success of the administrative means of the international fight against anarchism, in other words, was possible because of the attained level of expertise and professionalism in police institutions rather than because of any willingness on the part of the governments of national states to legislate anti-anarchist policies.
Further indicating that international anti-anarchist intelligence work was influenced more by established international police culture than by intergovernmental legality is that the two provisions of the Rome Conference that applied to all crimes and not only to anarchism—the portrait parlé system of identification and the Belgian clause of extradition— were among the few conference proposals that were effectively put into law in several European countries in the years following the meeting (Jensen, 1981, pp. 331-333). Legislation on these international police measures was successfully accomplished because of developments in matters of international police organization and police technique that had already begun many years before. Whether focused on anarchism or not, police institutions had indeed been exchanging information on a regular basis throughout the 19th century and has thus de facto forged a network of international police experts (Deflem, 2002a, pp. 70-77). That practical police measures were effectively legislated in the aftermath of intergovernmental accords shows that police authorities sometimes succeeded in having their activities perceived by their respective national governments as purely administrative in nature. The Rome and St. Petersburg treaties, therefore, promoted the expansion of international police practices that had already been set up and developed by police institutions.
The anti-anarchist conference of Rome in 1898 and its follow-up meeting in St. Petersburg in 1904 represent remarkable threshold cases in the history of international policing. On one hand, these efforts clearly have a foot in the 19th century in that they remained largely framed in a politically sensitive framework of international law. On the other hand, they also reveal the growing influence of a developing police culture that was moving in the direction of instituting international police practices on the basis of professional expertise. It is for this reason appropriate to consider international treaties on white slavery during the early 20th century in the same context as the anti-anarchist accords.
The Social Defense against White Slavery
Anarchism and white slavery share the characteristic that they were perceived by government and police authorities to be problems of an international nature. When, after the assassination of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, the Austrian foreign minister called for the establishment of an international police league, he referred to anarchists as “wild beasts without nationality,” who were a menace “to all persons” (cited in Liang, 1992, p. 160). The broad international representation at the Rome Conference, with countries as diverse in ideological persuasion as France, England, the German Empire, and Switzerland, reveals the extent to which the notion of anarchism’s internationality was accepted. The problem of white slavery, likewise, was perceived by police and government representatives from the viewpoint of its international dimensions (Decker, 1979; Petrow, 1994). The very terms white slavery and white slave trade are meant to indicate that “movement between brothels was at the very heart of the system” (Bristow, 1983, p. 29). Regular clientele demanded variety in supply; venereal diseases caused unemployment and required replacement; and the deliberate removal of women from their familiar surroundings strengthened the control powers of their employers. During the 19th century, the traffic in prostitutes had increasingly assumed an international scope, within Europe as well as beyond, especially toward South America (Decker, 1979, pp. 63-66).
As the president of the Austrian League for the Suppression of White Slavery stated in 1904, “There exists an international organization which in many places of the earth has its general terminals; the export is so regulated that women of particular countries of origin are always sent to those centers where they are especially appreciated” (quoted in Schmitz, 1927, p. 13). The trafficking in prostitutes was recognized to have become an international business that had to be tackled internationally.
The international implications of white slavery occupied private groups, governments, and police institutions at national and international levels for some time in the second half of the 19th century (Bristow, 1983; Decker, 1979; Petrow, 1994). As early as 1869, Austrian authorities requested information from a number of European governments about their laws regarding the transportation of prostitutes across national borders. The request aimed to harmonize antiprostitution laws in Europe, but the attempt was not successful. Subsequent privately planned international efforts to control prostitution included the International Congress on the White Slave Traffic organized by the National Vigilance Association in London in 1899. The meeting led to the creation of an International Bureau for the Suppression of White Slavery in London, and produced a follow-up meeting, the Second International Congress on the International Fight Against the White Slave Traffic, held in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1902.
At the intergovernmental level of states, an important antiprostitution initiative was taken when an international conference on white slavery was organized by the French authorities in Paris on July 15, 1902 (League of Nations, 1927; Palitzsch, 1926). The participants of the Paris meeting agreed on a final protocol that criminalized prostitution and specified extradition treaties and several administrative arrangements on the matter. The recommended police measures included government-authorized observations of procurers and suspicious foreigners in railway stations and ports (Petrow, 1994, pp. 163-164). At a follow-up meeting in Paris in 1904, the International Agreement for the Suppression of White Slave Traffic was signed by the governments of 12 European countries, including France, Germany, Great Britain, and Russia. Some non-European states, among them Brazil, China, India, and the United States, did not sign the accord but nonetheless agreed to adhere to its provisions (League of Nations, 1927, p. 197). The nine-article agreement specified, among other things, that governments should police all persons involved with prostitution at railway stations and ports. It was also decided to create intelligence bureaus on prostitution in all participating countries and for these bureaus to be in direct contact with one another. Furthermore, the Paris Agreement provided that governments should arrange to report foreign prostitutes residing in their respective countries to the authorities of the prostitutes’ country of origin and to repatriate them on request from foreign authorities.
At a subsequent meeting in Paris on May 4, 1910, the International Convention for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic was signed by 13 nations, including most of the countries that signed the 1904 Agreement, as well as Austria-Hungary and Brazil. The United States was among the countries that no longer adhered to the new treaty (League of Nations, 1927, pp. 197-200). The convention reaffirmed the provisions of the 1904 Agreement, additionally regulating a system of information exchange between the participating states. Specifically, international police communications on prostitution were recommended to be conducted either through diplomatic channels or directly between the appropriate police authorities.
Although the international agreements on white slavery dealt with a nonpolitical issue, the agreements reached in Paris were, like those on anarchism, decided on at the intergovernmental level and framed in the language of formal international law. Yet unlike the Rome Conference on anarchism, the international meetings on white slavery had no police authorities separately working on issues of practical control but, instead, subsumed all policy measures, legislative and administrative, under one accord of international law. In consequence, the white slavery accords did not significantly influence the course and outcome of international police strategies and other practical aspects of prostitution policy. Instead, police activities in the area of white slavery developed as part of national policies and on the basis of the international networks police institutions had established outside the context of intergovernmental agreements (Decker, 1979). Efforts to control the trafficking of prostitutes into the United States, for example, were largely conducted on the basis of national U.S. legislation. In 1908, the U.S. Immigration Commission conducted an investigation on the Importation and Harboring of Women for Immoral Purposes, which led to changes in U.S. immigration laws and the passing of the White Slave Traffic Act on June 23, 1910 (League of Nations, 1927, p. 7). Introduced in Congress by Republican Representative James Robert Mann of Illinois, the federal law came to be known as the Mann Act, and its enforcement was assigned to the Justice Department’s Bureau of Investigation.
The bureaucratization theory of international police cooperation holds that police institutions need to be sufficiently autonomous from the political dictates of their sanctioning governments to independently devise the objectives of and the means for international police work (Deflem, 2002a, pp. 17-23). Relying on professional knowledge systems on international crime problems and the appropriate measures for their control, police institutions can then establish international cooperation arrangements with wide international appeal. Over the course of history, these conditions were gradually met in more successful ways as international police cooperation increasingly moved beyond the formal legal systems of national states on the basis of professional standards of efficient policing. The relevance of the professionalism that was shared among bureaucratic police institutions would be manifested most clearly in 1923 when the International Criminal Police Commission, the organization today known as Interpol, was formed as the most ambitious international police organization on a wide multilateral scale. Despite several ups and downs in the course of its 80-year history, the organization has continued to exist as the most successful exponent of the trend toward the internationalization of the police function. The 19th-century antecedents of Interpol, however, concerned international police activities that were largely driven by the political dictates of national governments and framed in the language of international law. The international developments concerning anarchism and prostitution discussed in this chapter, therefore, need to be seen in terms of the complex dynamics between intergovernmental arrangements, on one hand, and international police practices, on the other.
Sociopolitical conditions at the turn of the 20th century prevented broad support for intergovernmental agreements that attempted to formalize international police cooperation at the level of international law and also set boundaries to the scope of police objectives that remained too closely tied up with the political directives of national governments. Accomplishments in effective practical police cooperation, even when cooperation was achieved in the wake of formal intergovernmental treaties, was not governed top-down by governments and the treaties they had been able to agree on but was worked out from the bottom up at the level of a developing cross-national police culture of experts. Although the Rome and St. Petersburg meetings could not effectively dictate the international police response against anarchism, they did provide an arena for heads of police to formalize developments of international cooperation in practical police methods that had already begun many years earlier. In contrast, the international treaties on white slavery dealt with a distinctly criminal matter but did not take into account achieved accomplishments in police professionalization and bureaucratization (Deflem, 2002a, pp. 23-26).
The ironic conclusion to the impact of the anti-anarchist measures is that an elaboration of international police practices was achieved on criminal matters although they had originally been conceived in relation to the political issue of anarchism. Equally ironic is that the white slavery agreements were unsuccessful in fostering international police cooperation, although they concerned a clearly nonpolitical crime. The reason is that the international accords on white slavery were planned by the political authorities of national states at the level of international law without much regard for practical issues of policing. With respect to fostering international police relations, the white slavery treaties were less important than the anarchist accords and cannot be regarded as a critical antecedent of international police cooperation. In terms of the enforcement of the international laws on anarchism and white slavery, attention should go to the relative success of the Rome Conference in a manner that was depoliticized and the relative failure of the anti-white slavery initiatives despite their concern for a criminal issue.