Shipping hijack

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 July, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 July, 1995, 12:00am

THE international community has been urged to clarify what constitutes an 'act of piracy' in the wake of the hijacking of the Hye Mieko.

Executive director of the London-based independent International Maritime Bureau, Eric Ellen, said it was time to clarify the international maritime responsibilities of individual governments.

He cited the authoritative Colombos International Law of the Sea to show that governments should become involved in suspected piracy.

'When serious reasons exist for suspecting that a vessel is piratical, all ships of war are entitled to visit her for the purpose of ascertaining her true character.' Naval morale has not recovered from a run-in with Security Branch officials in March, when a Hong Kong vessel was hijacked by a Chinese gunboat inside territorial waters.

On that occasion, heated meetings were held between the Governor, the Commander British Forces and senior policy-makers after the South China Morning Post revealed that the Security Branch had ordered Marine Police to stand off and that it had chosen not to inform the navy.