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Lighthouse - January, 2015.

The Decision of The European Court of Human Rights – Review Needed??

The decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) comes as an insult to all Seafarers who survived Piracy attacks.  Recently the French government was ordered to pay a good amount as compensation to the pirates from Somalia who attacked French ships on the ground that their human rights were disregarded at the time of their arrest.

Further, to add on to this the ECHR ruled out that Denmark had to compensate nine suspects from Somalia who tried to hijack a Danish tanker vessel in the Indian Ocean, and the reason being that they were detained too long before bringing them before a judge.  As a result, each of them received $ 3,247 for the days they were detained.

The Judgement states that as per Danish law, a citizen cannot be held in custody for more than a day without being presented before a judge.  However, there arose a question why does this rule apply to them since they are neither citizens of Denmark or the European Union.  While deciding on such cases, seldom do the judges notice the threat the pirates or rather these armed criminals cause to the seafarers and their families.  Here in fact, Judges use law to protect these criminals instead of punishing them.  The naked truth is that the pirates actually take away the human rights of the seafarers when they captivate them and never have been the seafarers compensated.

There have been instances where the seafarers were held for 1000 days and more, but there was no ECHR to hear them and grant them a compensation for their suffering.  There are 30 seafarers and fishermen who are held for four years without receiving any compensation, not even their wages.  Nevertheless, the pirates were supported by giving them $ 250 per day for being held.  There have been voices in the Shipping Industry against these kinds of judgements and support for the seafarers and their families.

The Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) was set up in 2010 to support and assist the seafarers and also for their welfare. It is an alliance of ship owners, managers, manning agents, insurers, maritime unions, and professional and welfare associations together with governmental and intergovernmental organizations.

The situation of piracy cases and attacks are no different in Asia.  During November 2014, a total of 20 piracy attacks were reported of which, maximum number occurred during June 2014 and the minimum in January 2014. Among these 20 incidents, 11 occurred onboard ships in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore and in the South China Sea and the rest occurred onboard ships while anchored/berthed in the South China Sea, Cochin and Sandheads anchorages in India, Chinagong port, Bangladesh, Samarinda anchorage, East Kalimantan, Indonesia and Vung Tau, Vietnam.

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