Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Russia fails to attend tribunal hearing on 'piracy' seizure of Arctic Sunrise

The seized Arctic Sunrise under Russian Navy guard in Murmansk Harbour.
Photo: Greenpeace
FOLLOWING a hearing at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), where the Netherlands brought a case seeking the release of the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise and its crew, Greenpeace International general counsel Jasper Teulings has praised the Dutch government for its "strong stance for rule of law" over the widely condemned seizure of the environmental campaign ship.

"The Dutch government argued its case extremely strongly," Teulings said.

The Arctic Sunrise Tribunal at International Maritime Court/
International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS)
in Hamburg. Photo: Greenpeace
"The Netherlands is taking a strong stance in support of the rule of law and the right to peacefully protest. Greenpeace International applauds the Dutch decision as flag state of the Arctic Sunrise in taking the necessary legal steps to gain the release of the ship and the Arctic 30.

"Greenpeace International is confident that the Tribunal will take appropriate account of the fundamental rights of the Arctic 30, and the impact of their detention on those rights, in reaching its eventual decision."

The Russian Federation did not attend today's hearing in Hamburg, Germany, and the sitting was closed following the presentation of the Dutch government's oral argument.

The Netherlands will now lodge written answers to the tribunal’s questions by the end of Thursday, November 7. The presiding judge set a tentative date of Friday, November 22, for the tribunal's provisional order.

In response to Russia's non-appearance at the tribunal, Joris Thijssen, campaign director at Greenpeace Netherlands, said:

"The decision of the Russian Federation not to attend the hearing is a departure from its previous respectful engagement with the tribunal. Russia is not formally obliged to participate in the hearing. However it is under an obligation to comply with any ruling which the tribunal may make.

"Greenpeace International hopes that Russia will respect UNCLOS and the rulings of the court. Greenpeace International also thinks that from everyone's perspective ITLOS is the correct place to resolve the issue."

ITLOS is an independent judicial body located in Hamburg, Germany, established to resolve disputes about the interpretation and application of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Attending the hearing, Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo said:

"As things stand the Russian authorities propose to jail 30 men and women for two decades because a couple of peaceful protesters tried to hang a small yellow banner from the side of a 500,000 tonne oil platform.

"In our view, there's every prospect the tribunal will order the release of the Arctic 30, pending the arbitration case that the Netherlands has filed against Russia."

Russian authorities originally accused the Arctic 30 of "piracy" and later reduced the charges to "hooliganism".

Dutch plead for Greenpeace crew
'Piracy' charges changed

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