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contraband

contraband, in international law, goods necessary or useful in the prosecution of war that a belligerent may lawfully seize from a neutral who is attempting to deliver them to the enemy. The term is sometimes also applied to the goods carried into a country by smuggling. The penalty for carrying contraband goods is the confiscation of the goods and often also of the vessel (see prize). Neutral ships guilty of direct assistance to the enemy may be treated as enemy ships. International law has not precisely defined all classes of goods that are contraband of war per se. Munitions are certainly absolute contraband, but the status of food and other conditional contraband at least indirectly needed for war is often in doubt. At the second (1907) of the Hague Conferences a vain attempt to define the classes of contraband was made. In World War I many powers at first agreed to abide by the terms of the Declaration of London (see London, Declaration of) respecting contraband, but in time unconditional blockade of all goods was adopted. At the beginning of World War II the belligerents drew up lists of absolute and conditional contraband, but the total absorption of the economy in warfare led to the prohibition, so far as possible, of all shipping to the enemy.

See P. C. Jessup, The Early Development of the Law of Contraband of War (1933).

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contraband

con·tra·band / ˈkäntrəˌband/ • n. goods that have been imported or exported illegally. ∎  trade in smuggled goods: the government has declared a nationwide war on contraband. ∎  (also contraband of war) goods forbidden to be supplied by neutrals to those engaged in war. ∎  during the U.S. Civil War, a black slave who escaped or was transported across Union lines. • adj. imported or exported illegally, either in defiance of a total ban or without payment of duty: contraband drug shipments. ∎  relating to traffic in illegal goods: the contraband market. DERIVATIVES: con·tra·band·ist / -ist/ n.

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Contraband

CONTRABAND

Any property that it is illegal to produce or possess. Smuggled goods that are imported into or exported from a country in violation of its laws.

Contraband confiscated by law enforcement authorities upon the arrest of a person for the crimes of production or possession of such goods will not be returned, regardless of the outcome of the prosecution.

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contraband

contraband sb. and adj. XVI. The present form was not current before XVII, the earlier forms being †counterbande (after F. contrebande) and †contrabanda — Sp. -banda — It. -bando (now contrabb-), f. contra- (see prec.) and bando BAN 1.

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