THE Royal Navy has been ordered not to arrest pirates — in case they claim asylum.
Warships must simply watch if merchant vessels are attacked, it was revealed yesterday.
Meanwhile crews have been warned that fighting modern-day cut-throats could violate their HUMAN RIGHTS.
Last night seadogs were enraged by the shock decree to our proud fleet — once the scourge of buccaneers across the seven seas.
It comes amid an explosion of piracy off the East African coast, where ships have been hijacked by armed gangs and crews held for ransom.
Earlier this year Colin Darch, 70, of Appledore, North Devon, was freed with his five crew after 47 days when his ship’s owners stumped up £350,000.
Yesterday respected shipping newspaper Lloyd’s List revealed: “Foreign Office officials are understood to have advised the Royal Navy not to confront or arrest pirates in the region, for fear of transgressing human rights legislation or encouraging their seeking asylum once taken to the UK.”
Furious shipping chiefs confirmed the order following a summit with EU anti-piracy officials in Brussels — who said the Navy had been told its presence in the region was simply to act as a “deterrent” to kidnappers.
The European Community Shipowners’ Association demanded “direct action be taken against the pirates” — like the French Navy has been pursuing.
One captain stormed: “As a nation we should hang our heads in shame.” [yeah, you should!]
A dozen ships have been attacked in the past two months — and almost 200 seamen are currently being held captive.
Last night it was unclear who gave the order to the Navy.
The MoD said its rules of engagement were an issue for the Foreign Office.
But the FO insisted: “We don’t give the MoD instructions on how to operate.”
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