IMB slams decision to pay pirates

Jan 24, 2015 by Guest Writer

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has criticized a December decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that France should compensate convicted Somali pirates for trial delays.

“These criminals have been responsible for taking hostage thousands of seafarers who were subjected to unprovoked violence and sometimes torture,” a spokesperson for the IMB said in a statement. “Some seafarers have also been murdered by pirates while carrying out their lawful business on the high seas.”

The ECHR last month ordered France to pay thousands of euros to Somali pirates who had attacked French ships in 2008. The pirates were captured by the French military on the Somali coast after they hijacked two French yachts in separate attacks in 2008. French authorities held one group for four days and the other group for six days and 16 hours before they were taken to France to stand trial. The ECHR said the pirates should be paid compensation because they were not immediately brought before a French court but instead kept in custody for a further two days after their arrival in France. The judge ruled that the delay constituted a “violation of their rights to freedom and security.”

The IMB spokesperson said that among other things, the court had failed to take into account “practical difficulties with respect to the gathering of evidence and transporting of the alleged perpetrators when a crime is committed at sea, thousands of miles from where the court proceedings take place, compared to a crime committed ashore.”

The IMB added it was worried about the message that the ECHR’s decision might send other pirates and the implications it could have on shipping and seafarers’ safety.

Reported in a recent edition of Wheelhouse Weekly, a newsletter of the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots. It has been reprinted with permission.