What happened to American diplomat, James Hogan in Curacao?

American diplomat, James E. Hogan was reported missing in Curacao, the Netherlands Antilles on September 25, 2009.  He disappeared 15 months ago and we are no closer to understanding what happened to him. One local newspaper seems to be the only one that still report “updates” on the case this past year.

Curacao – Missing U.S. Vice Consul Hogan Case Still Open  (Extra)

U.S. Vice Consul James Hogan went missing a year-to-date. There is no news to report, but the case is still open according to Public Prosecutor Giselle Veen-Jonkhout.

Curacao – Remembrance Ceremony Vice Consul James Hogan (Extra)

There has been no declaration of death in the U.S. Vice-Consul James Hogan case, despite rumors in the media that he was declared dead, a U.S. Consulate General spokesperson said. Public Prosecutor Giselle Veen-Jonkhout and the U.S. Consulate confirmed and emphasized that the investigation is ongoing.  The U.S. Government made what is called a “finding of death” which is an administrative measure that enables his family to apply for certain benefits in connection with his U.S. Government employment. “A remembrance ceremony was held for members of the U.S. Consulate staff only, no local dignitaries were invited”, the spokesperson said. Mr. Hogan’s family has returned to the U.S.


7 FAM 280 (Presumptive Death)
states that Section 234 of the James W. Nance and Meg Donovan Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2000 and 2001 (Public Law 106-113) (22 U.S.C. 2715b) explicitly authorizes a consular officer to issue a report of death or of presumptive death in the case of a finding of death by the appropriate local authorities.  In addition it explicitly authorizes a consular officer to issue a report of presumptive death in the absence of a finding of death by the appropriate local authorities. This latter provision is intended to allow the consular officer to issue a report of presumptive death in exceptional circumstances where the evidence that the individual has died (e.g., he or she was listed on a passenger manifest on an aircraft that had no survivors) is persuasive, but local authorities have not issued and are not likely to issue a finding of death (because, e.g., issuance of a local death certificate requires forensic evidence that is not available, there is no local authority that clearly has jurisdiction, or by law a death certificate in case of presumed death may not be issued for a lengthy period such as five years).

Below is from FAM 283 when there is NO LOCAL FINDING
(CT:CON-153; 01-11-2007)
a. A United States citizen or non-citizen national may disappear or be missing in circumstances where it appears likely that the individual has died, but there is no local authority able or willing to issue a death certificate, or no judicial finding of death, or no local competent authority willing to make a finding of presumptive death. This situation may include, for example, death in a plane crash where there are no identifiable remains, death in a plane crash beyond the territory of any country, death in an avalanche, disappearance/death at sea, or other sudden disaster where the body is not immediately (or perhaps ever) recoverable.

b. Authorization of issuance. The Department (CA/OCS/ACS), with the concurrence of CA/OCS/PRI (ASKPRI@state.gov) and L/CA, may authorize the issuance of a consular report of presumptive death in such circumstances. A consular report of presumptive death may not be issued without the Department’s authorization, which must be approved by the Managing Director of CA/OCS.

c. Considerations in determining whether the Departments Consular Affairs (CA) office will authorize issuance of a Report of Presumptive Death. The Department’s decision whether to issue a Report of Presumptive Death is discretionary, and will be based on the totality of circumstances in each particular case. Although no one factor is conclusive or determinative, the Department will consider the factors cited below, among other relevant considerations, when deciding whether to authorize issuance in a particular case:

(1) Whether the death is believed to have occurred within a geographic
area where no sovereign government exercises jurisdiction;

(2) Whether the government exercising jurisdiction over the place
where the death is believed to have occurred lacks laws or
procedures for making findings of presumptive death;

(3) Whether the government exercising jurisdiction over the place
where the death is believed to have occurred requires a waiting
period exceeding five years before findings of presumptive death
may be made;

(4) Whether the person who is believed to have died was seen to be in
imminent peril by credible witnesses;

(5) Whether the person who is believed to have died is reliably known
to have been in a place which experienced a natural disaster, or
catastrophic event, that was capable of causing death;

(6) Whether the person believed to have died was listed on the certified
manifest of, and was confirmed to have boarded, an aircraft, or
vessel, which was destroyed and, despite diligent search by
competent authorities, some or all of the remains were not
recovered or could not be identified;

(7) Whether there is evidence of fraud, deception, or malicious intent.

We do not know if a report of presumptive death was officially issued in this case. And this one we still do not understand — how can an American official simply disappears from his host country of assignment and there is barely a ripple in the American press?

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