- Foreign Enlistment Act 1870
The Foreign Enlistment Act 1870 (33 & 34 Vict. c.90) is an
Act of Parliamentof the Parliament of the United Kingdomthat seeks to regulate mercenaryactivities of British citizens.
It received the
royal assenton 9 August, 1870.
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 Irelandto enlist themselves in a foreign military.
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 Legionor those thousands who joined the fight against Francisco Francoin Spain. [http://tcbh.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/10/1/52]
Privy councilhas 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] .
Foreign Enlistment Act 1819
* [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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