A Commentary from RUSI on 13 May examines apparent contradicitions in public attitude to the payment of ransom payments.  It says that while paying ransoms to terrorist groups for the release of hostages certainly contradicts the letter of international law, many governments clearly chose that route in response to the detention of their citizens, a decision that, whilst arguably detrimental in the medium term as it fuelled the coffers of these terrorist groups, was the immediate difference between life and death for those citizens held hostage. The Commentary says that new polling public opinion reflects a similar contradiction between principle and practice when it comes to paying ransoms, with the larger portion of people tended to oppose ransom payment, with each sample showing the strongest opposition towards paying an Islamist terrorist organisation.  A clear majority is said to have responded that ransom payment should be ‘illegal’, again with terrorists stirring the strongest response. However, predictably perhaps, the attitudes changed if a relative were to be involved.  The article asks how should governments interpret this contradiction?

For information, the official policy of the Isle of Man Government (which I was involved in developing, and would generally mirror that of the UK and elsewhere) is set out as follows –

The anti-terrorism and sanctions legislation of the Island makes it illegal to make payments to terrorists and terrorist organisations or for the purposes of terrorism, either directly or indirectly. In particular, payments made to those individuals, undertakings and entities included on the Al-Qaida Sanctions List for the purpose of ransoms would be illegal, regardless of how or by whom the ransom is paid. The prohibitions have extra-territorial effect, meaning that an offence can be committed by Island persons or legal entities, even if the activity takes place outside the Island. However, a clear distinction may be made between payments of ransom to terrorists, or for the purpose of terrorism, and those which may be made for reasons of other forms of criminality, such as piracy at sea. Businesses and individuals are advised to exercise extreme caution in respect of any transactions that involve the payment of ransoms.  Any relevant information should be reported to the FIU. You should also be aware that a request to become involved in a transaction involving the payment of a ransom could give rise to knowledge or suspicion, or reasonable grounds for knowledge or suspicion that someone is involved in criminal activity or terrorist financing, in which case a disclosure should be made to the FIU.

If you’d like to help to contribute to the cost of the new laptop and desktop I have had to acquire, now that I am 5,000 miles away from my originals –

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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