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Bahamas Joins in Signing Declaration Condemning Acts of Violence Against Seafarers

By The Maritime Executive 11-19-2012 01:53:00

The Commonwealth of the Bahamas joined the Republics of Liberia, the Marshall Islands and Panama by signing a Declaration Condemning Acts of Violence Against Seafarers – also known as The Washington Declaration.

The event took place during the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) at the Connecticut Maritime Association on March 19. Officiated by Oceans Beyond Piracy and Marshall Islands representative, William H. Watson, the signing was also witnessed by other signatory States representatives.

The Declaration reiterates the signees’ dedication to guarantee better documentation of the violence endured by seafarers. It pulls its inspiration from the Human Cost of Somali Piracy study released in June 2011 by Oceans Beyond Piracy. The study found that thousands of mariners become hostages and are subjected to gunfire, beatings, captivity, and torture. More frequently, pirate hijackings are becoming increasingly violent as well; some even result in the deaths of entire crews.

During the signing ceremony, Commodore Davy Rolle, Managing Director & CEO of the Bahamas Maritime Authority made the following remark: “Piracy is a true blight on modern maritime trade. But only some aspects make the headlines. We may read about the “threat to shipping” in quite abstract terms. We may also read that a ship has been released on payment of a ransom of millions of dollars but at the very heart of every story is the crew - the hostages – ordinary seafarers who have been held in conditions where food and water are rationed, but intimidation is not. Held in conditions of unimaginable squalor and guarded by armed young men. Let us never forget the seafarers who pay the human cost of piracy.”

Again, the intended goal of this Declaration is to ensure that appropriate information is forwarded to the International Maritime Bureau of the International Chamber of Commerce regarding piracy incidents and attacks. Then, a central database on piracy within commercial shipping and the abuse of seafarers can be properly maintained. The Declaration will be presented to the Maritime Security Committee of the International Maritime Organization in May and discussed at the 11th Plenary Meeting of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.

Commodore Rolle hopes that “in recognizing their courage, let us look forward to the time when piracy is a distant memory.”

View the Declaration here.