30 Sep 2011

Support organisation for piracy victims

9:10 pm on 30 September 2011

Campaigners against piracy have launched an international support organisation in London to help the growing number of victims and their families cope with the trauma of their ordeal.

The organisers of the programme - known as the Martime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme - say that more than 300 sailors are being held to ransom in Somalia alone and that kidnappers are increasingly resorting to mental and physical abuse, including torture.

Its chairman, Peter Swift, says the treatment meted out to victims now frequently crosses the line from "savagery into torture".

According to the BBC, Somali pirates, frustrated when their ransom demands are not met fast enough, can inflict punishments on ordinary seafarers which include being locked in a ship's freezer, dragged below the hull, or tied up on deck with a gun to their heads and subjected to mock executions, sometimes during a forced phone call to their families.