HRAS Comment: Murder of seafarers on the High Seas – Update




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HRAS continues to investigate with other NGOs the factual background to this yet unverified footage. Whatever the location and background, the full footage clearly shows extra-judicial killings at sea, a failure to render assistance at sea and the killing of wounded seafarers; aside from any speculation that these were suspected pirates.

From the available unverified footage posted online, those seafarers are killed by what appears to be small arms fire, yet they pose no imminent threat to the life or lives of those onboard the trawler. They are unarmed and effectively in distress at sea.

The lethal response that is shown is not a lawful, necessary or a reasonable use of force and it is certainly not proportional to any threat posed. The crew of the trawler can not be said to be acting in self-defence in anyway whatsoever.

Model international benchmark rules for the use of force at sea may be found, for example, in the “100 Series Rules for the Use of Force” by way of comparison to lawful use of force at sea.

HRAS condemns such illegal and unlawful activity on the high seas and seeks to expose such incidents for due investigation by appropriate authorities.

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