Greenpeace ship compensation demanded

  • 25/08/2015

Russia must compensate the Netherlands with interest over the 2013 seizure of Greenpeace's Arctic Sunrise ship during a protest against Arctic oil drilling, an international arbitration court says.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) "found that the Netherlands is entitled to compensation with interest for material damage to the Arctic Sunrise" and those who were on board, the Hague-based body said in a statement on Monday (local time).

Russian commandos seized the Dutch-flagged ship in September 2013 and detained the 30 Greenpeace activists and journalists on board after a protest at an offshore oil rig owned by Russian state oil giant Gazprom.

The activists - who became known as the "Arctic 30" - were initially accused of piracy, a charge later changed to hooliganism, and detained for two months, before being bailed and then benefiting from a Kremlin-backed amnesty.

Russia handed the ship itself back last year.

In October 2013 the Netherlands hauled Moscow before the Hague-based PCA, a 117-nation body set up more than a century ago to arbitrate in disputes between countries, in protest at the seizure of the ship and its crew.

The Dutch asked the tribunal to rule that Russia had violated international maritime conventions.

It also asked for a ruling that Russia failed to comply with an order by the Hamburg-based International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), which had ordered that Russia promptly release the ship and its crew.

Russia did not attend the Hamburg hearing, neither did it take part in the PCA's arbitration.

"Russia had failed to satisfy the 'promptness' of the requirements of the ITLOS," the PCA said in Monday's ruling.

This "amounted to a breach of Russia's obligations under the convention," it added.

Findings made by the PCA are binding, but countries are entitled to ask, within a month, for a "correction" of an award - when it believes a mistake was made when working out the costs of compensation, for instance.