Foreign Enlistment Act 1870


Foreign Enlistment Act 1870

The Foreign Enlistment Act 1870 (33 & 34 Vict. c.90) is an Act of Parliament of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that seeks to regulate mercenary activities of British citizens.

It received the royal assent on 9 August, 1870.

Background

Numerous former members of the UK armed forces had fought in the South American wars of independence against Spain. Trained officers of what was then regarded as the strongest military in the world were organising insurgents against Spain- and causing a major headache to the Spanish expeditionary forces. The act made it a crime for any citizen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland to enlist themselves in a foreign military.

Failure

The bill has achieved a degree of fame in the United Kingdom for being impossible to enforce. Although some were tried for breaching its provisions, the last such trial was in 1896. A privy council report claimed that no successful prosecutions came from the act.

Problems with evidence prevented the British government from convicting enlistees to the French Foreign Legion or those thousands who joined the fight against Francisco Franco in Spain. [http://tcbh.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/10/1/52]

The Privy council has claimed the act to be an "antiquated piece of legislation...passed on the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war" [http://www.oup.co.uk/pdf/1-84-174183-3.pdf] .

ee also

*Foreign Enlistment Act 1819
*Neutrality Acts

External links

*
* [http://tcbh.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/10/1/52 "The Foreign Enlistment Act and the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939"] , "Twentieth Century British History", 1999, 10(1):52-66.


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