At a maritime security Conference held in London¬†British politicians vocally attacked the shipping industry‚Äôs seemingly desire to¬†continue to pay ransoms to pirates.
There have long been concerns that government would look to ban payments, and it was feared a¬†UK Task Force would announce this last year. Thankfully the published¬†report contained a¬†series of recommendations that shied away from the all-out ban on ransom payments. It is understood, similar to Hilary Clintons US drive, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron has long been clear on the ‚Äúultimate ambition‚Äù which is to bring an end to ransom payments.
It seems a rather simplistic argument to say a ban on ransoms will end piracy ‚Äì and while in the long term it could have an effect, how many captives would have to die before the message got through? Quite rightly shipowners, and seafarers strongly support the payment of ransoms as they face the consequences of piracy first hand.
A ban on ransom¬†payments would have a potentially devastating impact on shipping, and the maritime profession. Shipowners forced to abandon their people based on a ridiculously conceived, na√Øve and ill fated notion that a ban will end piracy. Pure fantasy ‚Äì and a decision which is perhaps easy to make in the corridors of power away from the families of seafarers who would be told their loved ones will likely die in captivity.
Who could blame seafarers turning their back on the sea if the owners cannot pay ransoms for their return? The very idea is ludicrous, and should never be entertained. Stop people wanting to become pirates because they have jobs, hope and lives to lead ‚Äì do not do so by making knee jerk decisions which sound good in Parliament, or which make Oxbridge Graduates feel big as they make names for themselves in government.
No-one is saying that governments should pay ransoms ‚Äì but in denying¬†a shipowner the right to pay to get their people back, then politicians could be consigning people and a very industry to death.
Lest we forget, governments don‚Äôt give in to terrorists either ‚Äì and it hasn‚Äôt exactly solved that problem either. The world is not black and white, sometimes horrible, difficult and dreadful decisions have to be made for a greater good -and paying ransoms is one of those situations. Shipowners do not want to see pirates get rich, but when the worst happens and a crew are captured there is simply no alternative. Even when cash is offered the negotiation can be painful and tortuous, see the movie A Hijacking if you don‚Äôt believe so.
Alas unlike Captain Philips, the cavalry will not always hove into view ‚Äì and for the seafarers who are left to rot on ships, or in camps ashore ‚Äì the message is clear, with a ransom there will be a release. Failure to pay means death.