The UK Home Secretary, Theresa May, has announced that cover for terrorism ransoms will shortly be banned. How will this affect ransoms that are being paid to pirates who are holding ships and seafarers captive awaiting large pay-outs from the insurance company?
Mrs May said, “To put an end to uncertainty about insurance and reinsurance payments for kidnap and ransom, and to help prevent an important element of terrorist financing, the bill will amend existing law to make sure UK-based insurance firms do not provide cover for the payment of terrorist ransoms.
The Islamic State group, which last yeaar declared a caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq, raised £28 million through ransoms last year”..
A new offence will apply to ransom payments once the bill is introduced.”
Obviously, Piracy and terrorism are two distinct areas, although there is a cross over when funds paid to pirates are being used to fund terrorist activities.
Whilst piracy is not making the headlines these days as it did a few years ago, it is still going on and, in particular, West Africa is becoming a problem. While ransoms are supposedly illegal in Nigeria, they do get paid, with the collaboration of the Nigerian government.
Personally, I am a strong believer in not paying ransoms and using force if necessary to rescue captured seafarers. The French have done this effectively.
If you take away the profit of these illegal activities, it would soon put a stop to things and piracy may slowly disappear.
I will leave the last word on this subject to Terry Waite who knows more than most about hostage taking.
In the July 2010 edition of our magazine he wrote, “should ransom be paid and along with this should the payment of ransom be made a criminal offence under UK law?”
He went on to say, “could not the shipping industry get together and make it widely known that under no circumstances would ransom ever be paid? If such a policy were to be implemented with rigour, piracy would fade and die. I doubt such a policy will be adopted as there are too many vested interests and a ransom payment in return for a ship, cargo and crew might not seem too high a price for shipping companies to pay. The captors know their prey well.
In conclusion, while recognizing the complexities of the situation I still maintain my original position that ransom payment should not be paid. However, I doubt that my voice will be heard.”
I totally agree with these sentiments. Remove the rewards and the problem will eventually go away.