Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tribunal Finds against Russia in Seizure of Greenpeace Vessel

Seizure Violated UN Convention and Ordered to Pay Compensation
Shipping News Feature
RUSSIA – NETHERLANDS – The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) has ordered Russia to pay upwards of €5.5 million in damages following what was found to be the illegal detention of the Dutch-flagged Greenpeace icebreaker, the Arctic Sunrise, in 2013. The environmental organisation used the vessel to stage a protest at the Russia offshore oil platform Prirazlomnaya, located in the south-eastern part of the Barents Sea, and in response, Russian authorities boarded, seized, and detained the vessel, and arrested the thirty people aboard.

The international tribunal found that Russia had violated the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) by boarding the ship without consent of the flag state. The tribunal decided that Russia shall pay to the Netherlands the following sums, with interest:

  • €1,695,126.18 as compensation for damage to the Arctic Sunrise;
  • €600,000 as compensation for non-material damage to the Arctic 30 for their wrongful arrest, prosecution, and detention in Russia;
  • €2,461,935.43 as compensation for material damage resulting from the measures taken by Russia against the Arctic 30;
  • €13,500 as compensation for the costs incurred by the Netherlands for the issuance of a bank guarantee to Russia pursuant to the ITLOS Provisional Measures Order; and
  • €625,000 as reimbursement of Russia’s share of the deposits paid by the Netherlands in the proceedings.

The thirty people on board the ship, including two journalists, were taken into custody and charged with piracy and later hooliganism. They were all bailed out after two months imprisonment and later pardoned under an amnesty law. They had been protesting against the offshore platform operated by Russia's energy company Gazprom, with two protesters allegedly having tried to scale the platform.

The PCA is an intergovernmental organisation established by the 1899 Hague Convention on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes.