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Friday, August 19, 2005

Malacca Strait littoral navies ponder agreement on strait cross-border patrols

The navies of the nations which border the Strait of Malacca are working on an agreement, it says here,
Western Fleet Commander of the Indonesian Navy Rear Adm. Tedjo Edhi said that the main issue discussed during the meeting was the mechanism to allow patrol boats from one country to pass through another country's sea territory when chasing pirates in the channel.

"For instance, if a pirate attack occurs in Indonesian waters, then the Indonesian Navy will chase the perpetrators even if they've already entered Singapore's territory. Those were the kinds of issues we discussed here," he told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the meeting.
This sort of agreement is needed due to a wrinkle of international law, as previously described here, and set out, in relevant part, here:
Because, by definition, piracy occurs only on the "high seas" the narrow waters of, say, the Strait of Malacca with its adjacent territorial waters means there is no "international waters" involved. Instead, these "sea robberies" occur within the territorial waters of one state or another. But there are limits on "hot pursuit" of such criminal, who may commit the crime in the waters of one state, then duck into the waters of another before pursuit can be begun:
Article 23

1. The hot pursuit of a foreign ship may be undertaken when the competent authorities of the coastal State have good reason to believe that the ship has violated the laws and regulations of that State. Such pursuit must be commenced when the foreign ship or one of its boats is within the internal waters or 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. It is not necessary that, at the time when the foreign ship within the territorial sea or the contiguous zone receives the order to stop, the ship giving the order should likewise be within the territorial sea or the contiguous zone. If the foreign ship is within a contiguous zone, as defined in article 24 of the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, the pursuit may only be undertaken if there has been a violation of the rights for the protection of which the zone was established.

2. The right of hot pursuit ceases as soon as the ship pursued enters the territorial sea of its own country or of a third State.
The agreement being looked into by the Malacca Strait states must get around this international law but still recognize the sovereign rights of each of the states. It's an relatively easy issue to grasp, but a hard one to resolve.

Strait of Malacca

See also the discussion here.

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