Panama will withdraw its flag from more vessels that breach sanctions and international legislation, the country’s maritime authority told reporters, following the removal of about 60 ships linked to Iran and Syria from the Panamanian registry in the past few months.
After the reimposition of sanctions on Iran by Washington last year, then-Panamanian president Juan Carlos Varela gave the green light to remove a fleet of 59 tankers from the country’s registry, two sources close to the decision said.
Most of those vessels were owned by Iranian state-run companies, but they also included ships linked to oil deliveries to Syria, the sources added.
A separate supertanker, the Grace 1, earlier this month made its way to Gibraltar, where it was seized by British Royal Marines on suspicion of breaching sanctions against Syria.
The vessel was fully loaded with crude suspected to be bound for Syria’s Banyas refinery, Gibraltar authorities said.
The vessel arrived in Gibraltar showing the Panama name on its hull, but the Panamanian government later said that it had been removed from its registry on May 29.
“Panama will maintain its flag withdrawal policy,” Panamanian Maritime Authority Merchant Marine Directorate Director-General Rafael Cigarruista told reporters in an e-mailed statement.
“Our intention is to improve our fleet’s percentage of compliance, not only regarding sanctions by international organizations, but also Panama’s current legislation and maritime security rules,” he added.
He did not provide details on coming action or targeted fleets.
The exact process leading up to the detention of the Grace 1 remains unclear.
Spain, which does not recognize Britain’s sovereignty over Gibraltar, said that it would study whether Britain’s actions infringed on its territorial water claims.
Iran on Friday called on Britain to immediately release the Grace 1 and warned of reciprocal measures after three Iranian vessels on Thursday tried to block a British-owned vessel passing through the Strait of Hormuz.
As the US seeks to increase pressure on Iran, Panama has said that it is trying to maintain its registry clean from sanctioned ships and companies involved in wrongdoing.
Under international law, every merchant ship must be registered with a country, known as its flag state, which has jurisdiction over the vessel and is responsible for safety inspections and checking the crew’s working conditions.
When a vessel loses its flag, it typically triggers loss of insurance and classification if it does not immediately find another flag.
Panama has the largest shipping fleet in the world with almost 7,100 vessels registered, data from specialized firm Vessels Value showed.
The Central American country offers foreign vessel owners easy registration, the ability to employ foreign labor and does not tax the income of the foreign owners.
Even being the world’s largest, the registry has seen a decrease in its number of vessels from more than 8,000 in 2017.
Liberia now has almost 3,800 registered ships, followed by the Marshall Islands with 4,100, the Vessels Value data showed.
Experts said that an outdated and slow mechanism for registering vessels in Panama compared with other flag countries is the culprit of the falling number.
Panama, which this year announced that it would improve the payment mechanism for its registry to speed up the process, is also withdrawing its flag more frequently since the US administration started putting pressure on allied countries to help enforcing unilateral sanctions, the experts added.
“It’s very important for us as a flag country to preserve existing ties and grow closer to administrations that are members of the International Maritime Organization,” Cigarruista said, when asked if Panama is following US guidance on sanction enforcement.
‘SERIOUS QUESTIONS’: Three US senators sent a letter to the US commerce secretary asking whether the project ‘takes into consideration national security requirements’ US Senator Chuck Schumer and two other Democratic colleagues have written to top US administration officials asking for details of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd’s (TSMC) plan to build a US$12 billion fab in Arizona. Hsinchu-based TSMC on Thursday last week announced that it would build a plant to make 5 nanometer chips by 2024 that would have the capacity to produce 20,000 semiconductor wafers per month. The world’s biggest contract chipmaker already has one chipmaking fab in Camas, Washington, and design centers in Austin, Texas, and San Jose, California. It said it planned to start construction in Arizona next year and
VULNERABLE: Many women do not report sexual harassment by their landlord over fears they could lose the roof over their head, an expert said A growing number of landlords are asking tenants for sex in exchange for housing as COVID-19 lockdowns and job cuts have left many struggling to pay their rent, housing experts said. A survey by the National Fair Housing Alliance of more than 100 fair housing groups combating discrimination across the US found that 13 percent had seen an increase in sexual harassment complaints during the pandemic. “If I did not have sex with him, he was going to put me out,” one woman facing eviction by her property manager told the alliance in an podcast on its Web site. “As a single
MOM’S LONG CAMPAIGN: Mao Yin had been brought up in Mianyang, Sichuan Province, without any idea that he was the target of a decades-long, high-profile search A Chinese man who was stolen from his family as a toddler has been reunited with his parents after 32 years. Mao Yin (毛寅), then two-and-a-half years old, was snatched in 1988 when he was walking home from nursery with his father. His parents finally embraced him again on Monday in Xian, where he was born. After Mao vanished, his mother Li Jingzhi (李靜芝) quit her job and launched a decades-long search for her son, that included sending out more than 100,000 flyers and appearing on numerous TV shows. That long campaign helped 29 other families find their own missing children and made
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES? An institute of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and a company are to be sanctioned over ‘human rights violations and abuses’ The US Department of Commerce on Friday said that it would sanction a Chinese government institute and eight companies over alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. “These nine parties are complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” the department said in a statement. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science and Aksu Huafu Textiles Co are to be sanctioned “for