PIRACY | ICS seeks US order clarity

SAFETY AT SEA INTERNATIONAL

THE ICS is stepping up its campaign against an executive order by US President Barack Obama that it fears will affect shipping’s ability to make ransom payments.

In a planned intervention to the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee, the International Chamber of Shipping’s marine director Peter Hinchliffe warned that insurers and shipowners have been unable to clarify their liability under the executive order.

Despite informal assurances that ransom payments are not barred by the order, Hinchliffe said the ICS and industry in general remained confused and uncertain about its intentions and implications.

The order threatens fines or prison terms for “all US persons” engaged in transactions with “specially designated nationals” of Somalia, a list that contains two known pirates.

The term “US persons” covers workers at foreign branches of US entities and US branches of foreign entities as well as US citizens and residents, whether in the US or abroad. It could also apply to any person or insurer reimbursing a ransom or a US bank making a payment in US dollars.

The informal assurances have not only failed to give owners and insurers confidence,Hinchliffe said, but the order “fails to address the serious humanitarian aspects in those cases where the ransom is prohibited, leaving the crew in an impossible position”.

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