Somali pirates holding South Korean seafarers are demanding the release of pirates held by the South Korean authorities, as well as compensation for the deaths of some of their colleagues earlier this year, as a precondition for the captives’ freedom.
Eight pirates were killed in January when South Korean special forces secured the release of the chemical tanker Samho Jewelry . The Asian country’s government insisted that the deaths resulted from an exchange of fire, and has consistently denied any punishment element.
Stephen Askins of Ince & Co said: “Compensation would be a matter of Korean law and I assume would require the families to take action in Korea. I can’t see that being much of a runner in practical terms, unless a human rights organisation sought to support them. Even then, I wonder whether such an action is possible.”
An action in the UK would need a finding of unlawful killing. But with the right to life enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, there is a chance that an investigation would be instigated, he added.
“If a hostage rescue was ordered it would normally be in a situation where lethal force was permitted in principle. Even then any force used would need to be reasonable and proportionate.”
Last April, the Somalis released the vessel Asphalt Venture while holding on to seven Indian crew members, on the grounds that they were displeased with the Indian Navy’s killing of several colleagues.