Daily Archives: November 30, 2009

Iranians Capture British Sailors (Again)

One of this blog’s finest hours came when I was able to point out that the British Navy personnel captured by Iran were quite possibly in Iranian waters, and that the British government had produced a fake boundary map with no legal basis to justify its claims.


Coming as it did in the middle of massive Jingoistic propaganda, even though my assertions were true to anybody who did five minute’s research, it gave me an uncomfortable week, but finally it was universally accepted that I was telling the truth.

But the current case of arrest by Iran of civilian yachtsmen is completely different. Civilian mariners have every right to transit through territorial seas. As with the last incident, complete ignorance of the Law of the Sea is making media coverage useless. The question is inot if

It is thought the vessel may have strayed inadvertently into Iranian waters, the Foreign Office said


Unlike military personnel boarding ships, civilian ships have every right to sail through anybody’s territorial waters, including Iran’s. The Right to Innocent Passage, subject to reasonable navigation safety regulations, is enshrined in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. So the Iranians had absolutely no right to arrest these yachtsmen, whether they were in Iranian territorial waters or not.

It is a sign of the times that the Guardian does not know and is apparently incapable of researching this basic fact, That the same seems to be true of the Foreign Office is deeply disturbing.

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