Seafarers’ lives at risk if ransom payments are criminalised

Nautilus International has warned that seafarers will pay with their lives if governments outlaw the payment of ransoms to pirates.

General secretary Mark Dickinson has written to prime minister David Cameron expressing concern about plans to create an international taskforce ‘to discourage the payment of ransoms to pirates and other groups to eliminate the profit motive and prevent the illicit flow of money and its corrosive effects’.

Nautilus fears that any attempt to make the payment of ransoms illegal would jeopardise the safety of seafarers held captive.

The taskforce was announced by the PM during a recent international conference on Somalia. The government says the task force will bring together experts from across the world to better understand the ransom business cycle and how to break it.

But the Union is concerned at signs of a concerted attempt by the UK and the US to prevent ransoms from being paid. Mr Dickinson said owners had no option but to pay to ensure the safe return of seafarers.

‘To consider that ransom payments should be prohibited or discouraged is deplorable – seafarers will pay with their lives and shipping companies will pay on their balance sheets,’ he added. ‘At no stage has any minister provided us with the requested assurances or information on what the alternative to non-payment of ransoms would be.’


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