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Arctic Sunrise case: Russia to boycott intl maritime tribunal over Greenpeace arrests

Published time: October 23, 2013 16:19
Edited time: October 23, 2013 20:18
Greenpeace activists protest inside a mock prison cell, in support of fellows activists who were detained on the boat Arctic Sunrise, during a rally at the Mahatma Gandhi monument in Mexico City October 18, 2013 (Reuters / Edgard Garrido)

Greenpeace activists protest inside a mock prison cell, in support of fellows activists who were detained on the boat Arctic Sunrise, during a rally at the Mahatma Gandhi monument in Mexico City October 18, 2013 (Reuters / Edgard Garrido)

Russia says it will not participate in an international maritime tribunal over the arrests of the crewmembers of Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise during the oil rig protest in the Barents Sea in September.

The Dutch government asked on Monday the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to order Russia to free all the 30 crewmembers of the Greenpeace ship, who have been held on piracy charges since their detention by Russian border guards on September 18.

Moscow dismissed the request sent to the Hamburg-based tribunal and said it will not take part in the proceedings.

The Russian side has informed the Netherlands and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea that it does not accept the arbitration procedure in the Arctic Sunrise case, and is not planning to take part in the hearing,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

Russia also pointed out that back in 1997, when it ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, it refused to acknowledge the settlement procedures, which result in mandatory decisions in disputes over sovereign rights and jurisdictions.

That is exactly the kind of jurisdiction that we are exercising in the Arctic Sunrise case,” the Ministry said. Greenpeace’s activists violated Russian law in an exclusive economic zone and continental shelf when staging their protest against the Prirazlomnaya oil rig, the statement added.

However, Moscow remains “open to the settlement” of the situation around the case. 

Greenpeace responded later on Wednesday saying that the cited reservation to the convention is “overboard and does not apply in this instance.”

It’s positive to see that Russia remains open to settling this case. That said, Russia cannot pick and choose which parts of the Convention on the Law of the Sea it will apply,” stated Greenpeace’s International Legal Counsel, Daniel Simons. “It seems the Russian authorities don't welcome the prospect of the lawfulness of their actions being assessed by an independent tribunal.”

In Simons’ view, if Russia believes that the maritime tribunal lacks jurisdiction, “the normal and proper thing to do would be to raise this at the hearing.”

All 30 Arctic Sunrise crewmembers – who come from 18 different countries - have been placed in pre-trial detention in the city of Murmansk, northern Russia, till November 24. Under the law, the piracy charge can carry a penalty of up to 15 years behind bars.

The arrest of the activists has sparked a wave of international criticism, with supporters organizing protest activities worldwide. As part of Greenpeace’s “Free the Arctic 30” campaign, over 1.5 million people across the globe have sent letters to Russian embassies demanding their release.

Comments (11)


john Bambey 05.11.2013 17:57

Green Peace is a joke, During the Gulf oil spill they were nowhere to be seen and did not monitor the appaling farce that was the BP's alleged "cleanup" Millions of Gallons of toxic " corexits" was dumped all overe the eco system, No effort whatsoever was made to recover the spilled oil and the US coast guard served only as a private police to terrorize any legitimate journalists who were investigating. They threatened anybody who got close with severe charges under the terrorism laws and muliti million dollar bail bonds.
I would take Putin as US president over Bush, Clinton or Obama any day


john Bambey 05.11.2013 17:45

All this talk about Russias jails, the USA has horrible dangerous jails and prisons and incarcerates more people both numerically and as a percentage of the population than any other place on earth. Russia is trying to make a point, stay off of our property. It does not want fleets of Green peace activists climbing all over its industry. If the Russian People want more rights for them to demonstrate, they have the right to vote for them in elections that are, I am very sad to say, much more open and fair than our own. Russians in large majority, dont want outsider protestors in their territory. period.


Nathan Merrill 27.10.2013 12:12

Who would have thought that getting arrested in Russia was a bad idea?

Oh, right, everyone.

View all comments (11)
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