Do criminals get away with illegal activities within international waters or when they are at a high altitude? Are maritime and aviation laws questionable because of the issue of jurisdiction? Perhaps they are, since each country has its own set of laws. The laws of the land are rarely, if ever, applicable to the high seas or international airspace. Many people travel for recreation these days, and on many instances,are left aghast with little or no recourse to justice, when a wrong is committed against them. Onboard a cruise ship, if a crime is committed, then where will the criminal be tried? Which laws are applicable, and which are not? Maritime laws-the laws of the waters- are convoluted, and ships are not required by law to report to any authoritative body.International Maritime law requires providing those onboard a safe passage.However, if something illegal occurs, jurisdiction is difficult to prove. The difficulty associated with the different set of laws followed by each country has further exacerbated the situation. It is usually considered that the laws onboard are the laws of the flag that the ship is registered under. A ship usually flies the flag of the country it is registered in, and the laws of that respective country apply when it’s in international waters. But at the same time, the territory the ship is docked at, or is currently cruising through, are also taken into account. Distance from the port varies from country to country and that changes the laws applicable drastically. A given distance is considered as Internal Waters and when a ship cruises a distance away from said point, it is considered to have entered International Waters. The laws of the land are rarely, if ever, applicable to the high seas or international airspace. Many people travel for recreation these days, and on many instances, are left aghast with little or no recourse to justice, when a wrong is committed against them The laws applicable once ships are in the high seas are anyone’s guess. For instance, in Amsterdam, it’s legal to smoke marijuana, so a ship registered there can legally sell pot and the passengers and crew members can legally smoke; whilst they are on international waters. But would it be legal for them to be carrying marijuana if the ship is docked in, for example, a port that doesn’t allow such substances?Wouldn’t it run the risk of illegal smuggling? The laws are unclear. Also read: Our water woes What of a baby who is born on international waters or whilst high in the air? The laws are again quite murky when it comes to that. Different set of laws are applicable in different countries. Jus soli and Jus sanguinis are the laws applied to this case. Jus soli, in the easiest of terms, the laws of the land where the baby is born and, Jus sanguinis, is based on the laws of the parents’ citizenship. Many countries allow the child to be bestowed the citizenship of where the vessel is registered, while some others do not. So, if a baby is born in international waters or high up in the air onboard an airplane, the simplest rule is that the child follows Jus sanguinis, but it’s always not that simple.If a baby were born mid-air or on board a cruise ship registered in the US, whilst that vessel is in international territory, the parents of the baby might be able to petition for US citizenship and the baby might be conferred with US citizenship and the citizenship of the country where the parents are citizens of, given that country follows such laws. Maritime and aviation laws are questionable, and there’s no set answer to the criminalities and legal issues faced by those on board. More emphasis is needed on these issues as the world becomes even more connected every day. The writer is a lawyer and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org. Published in Daily Times, August 4th 2018.