Flag States Join Forces To Investigate Pirate Mistreatment Of Seafarers

Oceans-Beyond-PiracyThe world’s three largest flag states agreed today to share information on seafarer mistreatment at the hands of Somali pirates to help better gauge the “human cost of piracy.” The agreement was struck at ceremonies held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC by representatives of the Liberian, Marshall Islands and Panamanian registries.

The concept for the plan, which empowers the International Maritime Bureau to collect and accumulate statements of seafarers who have been subjected to piratical attacks, was an outgrowth of the Oceans Beyond Piracy working group. The project is initially being funded by OBP and the TK Foundation.

Under the pact, the three flag states – which make up some 40% of the world’s commercial shipping tonnage – will supply the IMB with “sanitized” statements that will include the seafarers’ accounts of their piracy ordeals but will omit their names, the names of their vessels, owners, operators and flag states to protect identities and privacy. “We have long heard anecdotal accounts of brutality visited upon mariners by pirates,” said William Watson, vice president and governor of the Maritime Security Council and a member of the OBP working group. “Hopefully, this agreement will help quantify the mistreatment and help focus attention on this crisis.”

Signing the agreement were: Margaret Ansumana, Senior Deputy Commissioner, Liberian Maritime Authority; Captain Thomas F. Heinan, Deputy Commissioner of Maritime Affairs, Republic of the Marshall Islands; and Mr. Roberto Linares, Minister for Maritime Affairs and Administrator of the Panama Maritime Authority. Mr. Pottengal Mukundan, director of the IMB was on hand to accept the commitment as was Mr. Jon Huggins, project director of OBP, which is part of the One Earth Future Foundation, based in Colorado.

Also in attendance at the ceremony were representatives of the U.S. State Department, the Office of Naval Intelligence, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, BIMCO, the Chamber of Shipping of America and other interested parties. Mr. Angelito A. Nayan, Second Secretary and Consul at the Philippines Embassy in Washington attended and praised the agreement, which he hopes will help focus attention on the plight of seafarers – many of whom hail from the Philippines.

The agreement was recently praised at the Plenary Session of the United Nations Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, whose chairwoman suggested linking the new IMB database to the CGPCS website that is presently in development.