Bloomberg News

Shipowners Fail to Disclose Torture by Pirates, Idarat Says

June 06, 2011

(Adds piracy costs in fourth paragraph.)

June 6 (Bloomberg) -- Shipowners are failing to disclose the scope of Somali pirates’ torture of crews off the East African country’s coast to avoid alarming seafarers working in the danger zone, a security adviser said.

“It is not in the interests of the shipping industry to make information about crew mistreatment generally available because of the level of mutinies which would take place,” Andrew Palmer, chief executive officer of Idarat Maritime Ltd., which advises owners and governments, said today at a conference in London.

The pirates are intensifying the use of torture against crews on ships seized off east Africa to get higher ransom payments from shipowners more quickly, Louisville, Colorado- based One Earth Future Foundation said June 2. Attacks added between $7 billion and $12 billion in extra transportation costs as ships altered course, paid for extra insurance premiums and employed armed security guards to protect their vessels, One Earth said in January.

Information about how hostages are treated is closely held and sometimes classified by the military, according to Kaija Hurlburt, lead researcher on a One Earth report into the human cost of piracy released today. A third of the 1,090 crew held hostage in 2010 were tortured or abused, the foundation said.

There are more than 100,000 seafarers at any one time preparing for, or transiting through, the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden region where pirates are active, according to Bill Box, secretary of the industry group Save Our Seafarers.

“Unless we have this part of the piracy picture provided to the world, we are missing something,” Pottengal Mukundan, director of the London-based International Maritime Bureau, told the conference. The event was organized by the Royal Institute of International Affairs, which is also known as Chatham House.

--With assistance from Alaric Nightingale in London. Editors: John Deane, Tony Barrett

To contact the reporter on this story: Michelle Wiesebockmann in London at mwiesebockma@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alaric Nightingale at anightingal1@bloomberg.net


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