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Private arrests of pirate suspects: lawful or not?
Willaert, K. (2016). Private arrests of pirate suspects: lawful or not? J. Int. Marit. Law 22(3): 196-201
In: The Journal of International Maritime Law. Lawtext: Witney. ISSN 1478-8586, more
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  • Willaert, K.

    The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea states that repressive actions against piracy can only be carried out by warships or other ships that are clearly marked and identifiable as being on government service and authorised to that effect. In principle, merchant ships are thus not empowered to resort to such actions. This fairly reasonable requirement gives rise to some problems. Warships are obviously seldom targeted and, because of the large range of modern pirates, they are not often able to catch the pirates in the act, causing serious difficulties with regard to evidence. Apart from the evidentiary issues, hypothetical situations wherein the crew of a merchant ship succeeds in averting an attack and eventually overpowers the pirate suspects also need to be considered. Is the crew then obliged to let the pirates escape without consequence, in the absence of any competence to apprehend them, or is there a way to realise adequate arrest and prosecution of these suspects?

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