The International Cruise Victims Association, (ICV), a nonprofit corporation formed by victims and families of victims of cruise crimes, celebrated the signing by President Barack Obama of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act. This is truly a historic day in the process of protecting passengers on cruise ships that enter or leave US ports of call. This major reform to protect passengers was long overdue.
The signing shows that a group of victims with limited funding can come together and make changes to affect an industry. This process will serve as a model for others who become victims of crimes, so that they can join together and make a difference.
The fact that ICV members reached out to their congressional representatives and asked for action was the key to the organization's success. Representative Doris Matsui answered the call for help from one of her constituents, Laurie Dishman. Representative Matsui took immediate action to support Laurie, which resulted in a series of congressional hearings that brought light to the issue of crimes of all types that were occurring on cruise ships. From these hearings came legislation in the US House of Representatives to take action and make changes to address the issue of cruise ship safety and security.
"This has been a long, difficult road for all cruise victims and their families, and this legislation is truly a result of their courage, their dedication and their conviction to preventing further crimes from happening," said Matsui, the author of the legislation. "This legislation is critical to providing the security and safety measures that all Americans need and deserve, no matter if they are on land or at sea."
At the same time, John Kerry responded to a request from Kendall Carver, Chairman of ICV, to assist in addressing the cover-up of his daughter's disappearance while on a cruise. Kerry made the same commitment to move forward with legislation in the US Senate. As a result, additional hearings were organized in the Senate to review and deal with the growing issue of crimes on cruise ships.
"The term ‘duty free' does not apply to the safety of passengers," said Kerry. "Murky lines of jurisdiction are no longer an excuse for risking the safety of millions of Americans who will board cruise ships this year. Ken Carver has been a tireless advocate for this cause. While we can't undo the past or bring Ken's daughter back, I was proud to work with him to prevent tragedy in the future by ensuring that security, safety and accountability be strengthened to hold criminals accountable and end the cycle of serious crimes on these vessels."
Through the efforts of the many ICV volunteers and partner organizations who worked with the congressional leadership provided by Matsui and Kerry, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009 was passed by the U.S. Congress and was signed into law by the President.
Kendall Carver stated, "This is truly a day to celebrate. This is not the end, but just the beginning of reforms that were clearly needed for the cruise industry. ICV will continue to ensure that the provisions included in this legislation are implemented to the fullest extent. ICV also continues to support our international members to make similar strides in other countries, so that all passengers throughout the world can be protected from crimes."