No Kid Gloves for Ocean Thugs
“Start by blaming the timorous lawyers who advise the governments attempting to cope with the pirates such as those who had been engaged in a standoff with U.S. hostage negotiators in recent days. These lawyers misinterpret the Law of the Sea Treaty and the Geneva Conventions and fail to apply the powerful international laws that exist against piracy. The right of self-defense — a principle of international law — justifies killing pirates as they try to board a ship.
“The international right of self-defense would also justify an inspection and quarantine regime off the coast of Somalia to seize and destroy all vessels that are found to be engaged in piracy. These inspections could reduce the likelihood that any government will find itself engaged in a hostage situation such as the one that played out in recent days. Furthermore, the U.N. Security Council should prohibit all ransom payments. If the crew of an attacked ship were held hostage, the Security Council could authorize a military blockade of Somalia until the hostages were released.
“Cowardice will not defeat terrorism, nor will it stop the Somali pirates. If anything, continuing to meet the pirates’ demands only acts as an incentive for more piracy.”
Richard L. Connor is the chief executive officer and ownership partner of the Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Publishing Co., which owns a group of daily and weekly newspapers. A newspaperman for 40 years, he previously was president and publisher of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in Texas. He has written a column for most of his career, and has served on two Pulitzer Prize for Journalism nominating committees.