Tagged in: Faith

Somalia deploys team to rescue Sri Lankans on Aris 13

Security forces have been sent to free the Aris 13, a regional police official said late on Tuesday. A pirate called Abdullahi told Reuters by telephone: “We are now heading on boats toward our colleagues holding the ship at Alula. We are carrying water, food and weapons for reinforcement.”The Sri Lankan government said eight Sri Lankan crew were onboard and the ship flew a flag from the Comoros islands.Data from Reuters systems showed it made a sharp turn just after it passed the Horn of Africa on its voyage from Djibouti to Mogadishu. Security forces have been sent to free the Aris 13 ship and the Sri Lankan crew, the Reuters news agency quoted Somali authorities as saying.Pirates hijacked the oil tanker with eight Sri Lankan crew on board, the first time a commercial ship has been seized in the region since 2012. The pirates brought the ship to the port town of Alula, district commissioner Mohamud Ahmed Eynab told Reuters by phone. Puntland is a semi-autonomous northern region of Somalia. Alula is a port town there where pirates have taken the tanker.Experts said the ship was an easy target and ship owners were becoming lax after a long period of calm. “We are determined to rescue the ship and its crew. Our forces have set off to Alula. It is our duty to rescue ships hijacked by pirates and we shall rescue it,” Abdirahman Mohamud Hassan, director general of Puntland’s marine police forces, told Reuters by phone. The Aris 13 sent a distress call on Monday, turned off its tracking system and altered course for the Somali port town of Alula, said John Steed of the aid group Oceans Beyond Piracy.“The ship reported it was being followed by two skiffs yesterday afternoon. Then it disappeared,” said Steed, an expert on piracy who is in contact with naval forces tracking the ship.Aircraft from regional naval force EU Navfor were flying overhead to track the ship, he said. The force declined to comment. The 1,800 deadweight ton Aris 13 is owned by Panama company Armi Shipping and managed by Aurora Ship Management in the United Arab Emirates, according to the Equasis shipping data website, managed by the French transport ministry.Graeme Gibbon-Brooks, the head of private maritime security company Dryad Maritime Intelligence, said the vessel was an easy target because it was low, slow and close to the coast.Crews were beginning to relax their vigilance after a period of relative security for shipping, he said.Now that the ship was captured, Somali authorities must ensure it was contained and not used as a mothership, he said, referring to a hijacked vessel used to launch attacks.“The way that the authorities react now is crucial,” he said.In their heyday in 2011, Somali pirates launched 237 attacks off the coast of Somalia, data from the International Maritime Bureau showed, and held hundreds of hostages.That year, Ocean’s Beyond Piracy estimated the global cost of piracy was about $7 billion. The shipping industry bore roughly 80 percent of those costs, the group’s analysis showed.But attacks fell sharply after ship owners tightened security and vessels stayed further away from the Somali coast.There had only been four attempted attacks by Somali pirates in the past three years, the bureau said.Intervention by regional naval forces that flooded into the area helped disrupt several hijack bids and improved security for the strategic trade route that leads through the Suez Canal and links the oilfields of the Middle East with European ports.Before Tuesday’s hijacking, only one crew remained captive in Somalia. The crew of 17 Iranians was taken two years ago, but four are believed to have died, four were rescued and one escaped, Steed said, so only eight remained.“They’re from Baluchistan in Iran,” he said, referring to a violent and restive eastern province. “No one really cares about them.” (Colombo Gazette) read more

UN rights chief concerned by broad scope of Chinas new security law

“This law raises many concerns due to its extraordinarily broad scope coupled with the vagueness of its terminology and definitions,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in a press statement. “As a result, it leaves the door wide open to further restrictions of the rights and freedoms of Chinese citizens, and to even tighter control of civil society by the Chinese authorities than there is already.” The new legislation covers a large spectrum of issues and defines the meaning of national security extremely broadly, stressed UNHCR: it is described as the condition in which the country’s government, sovereignty, unification, territorial integrity, well-being of its people, sustainable development of its economy and society and other major interests are “relatively safe and not subject to internal and external threats.” “The law should clearly and narrowly define what constitutes a threat to national security, and identify proper mechanisms to address such threats in a proportionate manner,” Mr. Zeid said, adding that, by doing so, individuals will be enabled to foresee the consequences of their conduct, as well as to safeguard against arbitrary or discriminatory enforcement by authorities. For instance, articles in the law envisage the mobilisation of citizens to guard against and report on security threats to the authorities, but the type of conduct that is considered to be a danger to national security is not defined, conferring broad discretion and leaving potential for abuse. The law also states that individuals and organizations must not act to endanger national security neither provide any kind of support or assistance to individuals or organizations endangering national security, without specifying the precise scope of any of these terms. Welcoming the fact that the new security law makes specific references to the Constitution, to the rule of law and to the respect and protection of human rights, Mr. Zeid said he is concerned about the lack of independent oversight. “States have an obligation to protect persons under their jurisdiction – but they also have an obligation to guarantee respect for their human rights. Restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly need to serve a legitimate aim [and] be necessary and proportionate, and there should be independent oversight of the Executive,” the High Commissioner said. Mr. Zeid also noted that China’s National People’s Congress will in the near future also consider laws on the regulation of foreign NGOs operating in China and on counter-terrorism. “I regret that more and more Governments around the world are using national security measures to restrict the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, and also as a tool to target human rights defenders and silence critics,” he said. “Security and human rights do not contradict each other. On the contrary they are complementary and mutually reinforcing. Respect for human rights and public participation are key to ensuring rule of law and national security.” read more