September 23, 2010
Anti-piracy petition gets 930,000 signatures
Today is World Maritime Day. To mark the occasion, Mr. David Cockroft, General Secretary of ITF (International Transport Workers Federation), presented a petition signed by 930,406 people to IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos at the UN agency's London headquarters.
The petition calls for governments to do everything possible to protect seafarers and ships at risk of attack by pirates by:
dedicating significant resources and concerted efforts to find real solutions to the growing piracy problem;
taking immediate steps to secure the release and safe return of kidnapped seafarers to their families;
working within the international community to secure a stab peaceful future for Somalia and its people.
“IMO shares the deep concern of seafarers, industry and the broader community with regard to piracy and I know I can speak for the Organization’s entire membership and its partners in stating that it is our strong collective wish to see it eradicated,” Mr. Mitropoulos said.
Mr. Mitropoulos said that the petition would significantly support the objectives identified by IMO with regard to the World Maritime Day theme for 2011, which will be “Piracy: orchestrating the response”.
The End Piracy Now petition was organized by an unprecedented coalition of seafarers’ unions, ship operators, welfare organizations and others.
It was launched just four months ago as the centerpiece of a campaign to persuade all governments to commit the resources necessary to end the increasing problem of Somalia-based piracy. Originally intended to achieve half a million signatures, it has far exceeded that figure.
Noting that 354 seafarers and 16 ships are currently being held hostage in Somalia, the campaign says that pirates are being released unprosecuted to kidnap, loot and maybe kill again and that it is impossible to use routes via the Suez Canal between Asia/the Middle East and Europe/North America without passing through a high risk area.
Speaking on behalf of all the signatory associations, ISF (International Shipping Federation) President, Spyros M Polemis, commented: "Since the crisis began over 1,500 seafarers have so far been taken hostage, often for months at a time and in truly awful conditions; a situation which is simply unacceptable. Our primary concern is humanitarian. While we greatly appreciate the efforts of governments and their navies to protect merchant shipping, we need a new strategy and additional military resources. Governments must really wake up to the enormity of the problem, as the number of pirates continues to increase in the knowledge they can act with virtual impunity, potentially closing a large section of the Indian Ocean to the movement of global trade, almost all of which is carried by sea. The international community can no longer afford to sit on its hands and cede control of its vital seaways to criminals."