Chairman's Press Release


‘Government must act to end violent attacks on seafarers’


The Transport Committee’s report on Piracy was published today. The Committee found that piracy is continuing unabated across the world. There is much talk from the United Kingdom Government; but little action.

Gwyneth Dunwoody MP, Chairman of the Committee, said:

“Over the past decade, piracy has increased by 168 per cent. Government needs to be at the forefront of the fight to destroy piracy. It must demonstrate practical action that international cooperation is succeeding in making piracy a thing of the past. That is woefully lacking. So far from destroying piracy, it is growing. The Government does not even know the scale of the problem. That is failure by any measure. The Government needs to demonstrate a new level of commitment in tackling piracy.”

She explained:

“We must be clear about what piracy involves: kidnapping, theft, assault, rape, wounding, murder. There is nothing remotely ‘romantic’ about the perpetrators of these appalling crimes, or their detestable activity.

There is a measure of inter-governmental dialogue about piracy. Correct-sounding codes and checklists to check it have been drawn up. But our evidence has brought into question how well these codes and checklists are being implemented. Unless there is the will to apply them, these will prove useless in the drive to obliterate piracy.

The fact is that piratical activity is increasing. That piracy is on the increase suggests that the political activity of the British and other Western governments has not been effective to date. Inter-governmental agreements are useful only as a springboard to effective action. Activity ‘on the ground’ implementing international agreements to destroy piracy and make travel by sea safer is what is needed. It is on successful practical action, not talking, that the UK Government will be judged.”

Mrs Dunwoody concluded

“In 2005 alone piracy resulted in over 150 injuries and assaults and over 650 crew members were taken hostage or kidnapped. These statistics may appear modest by contrast with the casualties suffered in other violent conflicts. But these attacks were not sustained in a violent conflict. They were suffered by innocent people travelling lawfully by sea. Even one such attack is one too many.”

Press Notice   56/2005-06    5 July 2006

Dr John Patterson, Clerk of the Committee