Decision of the European Court of Human Rights is repugnant and insulting to all Seafarers who have survived Piracy Attacks.
The Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) has reacted to the news that the French government has been ordered to pay thousands in compensation to Somali pirates who had attacked French ships, ‚Äúbecause the pirates’ human rights were disregarded when they were arrested‚Äù. It was decided that the French army took too long to bring the pirates before a judge when they apprehended the criminals in 2008, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled. France has been ordered to pay from ¬£1,578 – ¬£3,945 to each Somali pirate for their ‘moral damages’ as well as from ¬£2,367 to ¬£7,100 to cover each of the pirates’ legal costs.
The Somali pirates were caught on the high seas by the French army on two separate occasions in 2008, and taken back to France for trial. The ECHR said French authorities should have presented the pirates ‘without delay’ to a judge when they arrived on the country’s territory after holding the men at sea. In the ruling, the ECHR acknowledged the French were operating under ‘completely exceptional circumstances’ – the arrest took place ‘more than 4,000 miles from French territory’ – which explained the long detention without seeing a judge but the ECHR judges ruled that France needs to compensate the pirates as the French Army ‘took too long to bring the pirates before a judge’, during a 2008 arrest and so ruled that after their arrival on French soil, authorities were wrong to keep the pirates in custody for an additional 48 hours before bringing them before a judge.
Roy Paul, Programme Director for MPHRP, said, ‚ÄúThis decision would be unbelievable if it wasn‚Äôt made by the European Court of Human Rights. The claim that this constituted a ‘violation of their rights to freedom and security’ is an insult to the seafarers and yachtsmen they attacked as surely this is the true violation of the seafarers‚Äô rights to freedom and security. These Pirates, in my opinion, gave up any of their rights when they set sail to attack innocent seafarers who were simply doing their essential work‚Äù.
Chirag Bahri, MPHRP South Asia Regional Director, who himself survived 8 months at the hands of pirates in 2010 and has met many of the survivors who have suffered various forms of torture and had their rights to freedom and security violated said, ‚ÄúI am sure all those seafarers, their families, relatives, friends and many in the maritime industry who ever have suffered due to this piracy menace, will surely feel very annoyed to hear this judgement. The seafarers held by Pirates such as the ones caught by France have been held up to four years and no court has ever awarded them anything for their ‚Äòmoral damages‚Äô ‚Äù.
Pirate attacks off Somalia have been reduced in recent years, with international fleets patrolling the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean and ships adopting the best management practices as set out in BMP4, as well as armed guards being employed aboard many vessels. At their peak in January 2011, Somali pirates held 736 hostages and 32 boats, some onshore and others on their vessels.
MPHRP has been supporting many of the families of those held and has helped many seafarers return to their loved ones. Many of the ship owners have responded well to the needs of their crew but some seafarers have been abandoned by their owners and the seafarers and their families are left to deal with the effects of the trauma they suffered at the hands of these Pirates.
Roy Paul said, ‚ÄúI hope that the States in the European Union will look very seriously at this judgement and get it reversed as it is an insult to all in the maritime industry especially as the judgement was made just before a Vietnamese seafarer was murdered by Pirates in an attack on board his vessel‚Äù.