Thursday, March 17, 2005

Malaysia won't allow Japan Coast Guard to patrol Malacca Strait

Long before the Global War on Terrorism there was a global war on piracy. International law governs the right of a nation to pursue pirates under certain conditions.
Articles 100-107 of the United Nations "Convention of the Law of the Sea states that:
"On the high seas, or in any other place outside the jurisdiction of any State, every State may seize a pirate ship or aircraft, or a ship or aircraft taken by piracy and under the control of pirates, and arrest the persons and seize the property on board. The courts of the State which carried out the seizure may decide upon the penalties to be imposed, and may also determine the action to be taken with regard to the ships, aircraft or property, subject to the rights of third parties acting in good faith."
Piracy website

Malaysia won't allow Japan Coast Guard to patrol Malacca Strait
Malaysia's Marine Police are looking at ways to step up security in the Malacca Strait following the abduction of three crew members of a Japanese-owned tugboat, but a senior officer rejected Wednesday a proposal to allow the Japan Coast Guard to patrol the busy sea lane.

"It shouldn't be. It cannot happen," Marine Police Force Commander Abdul Rahman Ahmad said, pointing to the complication of overlapping borders in the strait, which is flanked by Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, besides political issues that would arise.

Some of those complications are caused by another part of
The United Nations "Convention of the Law of the Sea:
"Incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the territorial sea or in a port areas are perceived as crimes against the state and thus subject to its national laws.  The Convention permits a coastal State to exercise the right of hot pursuit of a foreign ship if its competent authorities have good reason to believe that the ship has violated the laws and regulations of the coastal State.  Hot pursuit must be commenced when the foreign ship or one of its boats is within the internal waters, the archipelagic waters, the territorial sea or the contiguous zone of the pursuing State, and may only be continued outside the territorial sea or the contiguous zone if the pursuit has not been interrupted. Once it is broken off it cannot be resumed.  The right of hot pursuit ceases as soon as the ship pursued enters the territorial sea of its own State or of a third State."
In the narrow Strait of Malacca, it is likely that a pirate vessel from Indonesia may either never leave Indonesian waters or if it enters Malaysian waters, to be able to duck back into Indonesian waters before pursuit can begin by Malaysian authorities, and, in a literal reading of the the Convention, since none of the waters in the Malacca Strait are "international", then a non-contiguous state like Japan may not have any rights to take steps to protect its own shipping transiting these waters.

Then there is this:
Article 100
Duty to co-operate in the repression of piracy

All States shall co-operate to the fullest possible extent in the repression of piracy on the high seas or in any other place outside the jurisdiction of any State.

High seas?

Article 86
Application of the provisions of this Part

The provisions of this Part apply to all parts of the sea that are not included in the exclusive economic zone, in the territorial sea or in the internal waters of a State, or in the archipelagic waters of an archipelagic State. This article does not entail any abridgement of the freedoms enjoyed by all States in the exclusive economic zone in accordance with article 58 .
May we live in interesting times.

An interesting read on modern piracy is available at the Cargo Law site operated by the law firm of Countryman & McDaniel at www.cargolaw.com or more specifically on that sites internal page here. (Note: This constitutes a simple list of companies and points to features provded on Cargo Law's interior pages. No other use of the Cargo Law site is intended or implied.)

Update: The Free Aceh Movement denies involvement. See also From a Singapore Angle.

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