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Fiji Police Investigate Falsified Documents

The Fiji Police Force Acting Chief of Intelligence Investigations, Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police (Actg ACP) Semisi Bokadi has confirmed that they have started investigations on ships claiming to be
01 Feb 2017 10:13
Fiji Police Investigate Falsified Documents
Fiji Police Force

The Fiji Police Force Acting Chief of Intelligence Investigations, Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police (Actg ACP) Semisi Bokadi has confirmed that they have started investigations on ships claiming to be registered in Fiji using falsified documents.

“I can confirm to you that we have stared our investigation on the matter,” Actg ACP Bokadi said.

Once the investigation has been completed, he said, a decision will be made as to what charges would be laid.

The MSAF last notified the Fiji Police Force and Tokyo MOU about ships claiming to be registered in Fiji using falsified documents.

“Fiji has a closed Registry and is not an open registry and, as such foreign ships claiming Fiji’s their Flag State are doing so fraudulently,” said MSAF CEO, John Tunidau.

According to Mr Tunidau an open registry is a practice in which foreign ship owners register their ship in another State.

He confirmed that MSAF had submitted all the information to the Fiji Police Force, who would investigate the matter, and Tokyo MOU who would disseminate the information to other Member States.

The Tokyo MOU is one of the most active regional port State control (PSC) organisations in the world. The organisation consists of 20 member Authorities in the Asia-Pacific region.

According to Wikipedia, ship registration is the process by which a ship is documented and given the nationality of the country to which the ship has been documented. The nationality allows a ship to travel internationally as it is proof of ownership of the vessel.

International law requires that every merchant ship be registered in a country, called its flag state. A ship is bound to the law of its flag state. It is usual to say that the ship sails under the flag of the country of registration.

A ship’s flag state exercises regulatory control over the vessel and is required to inspect it regularly, certify the ship’s equipment and crew, and issue safety and pollution prevention documents. The organisation which actually registers the ship is known as its registry. Registries may be governmental or private agencies. In some cases, such as the United States’ Alternative Compliance Program, the registry can assign a third party to administer inspections.

A registry that is open only to ships of its own nation is known as a traditional or national registry. Registries that are open to foreign-owned ships are known as open registries, and some of these are classified as flags of convenience

Vessels that travel internationally or cross international borders are required to be registered. Registration is not necessary for vessels that travel only in local waters, though some jurisdictions require those vessels to be registered on the national registry. The country of registration is a ship’s flag state and determines its nationality as well as which country’s laws govern its operation and the behavior of its crew.

The types of vessels that can be registered at a particular registry is dependent on the rules of the registry. For example, the Liberian Registry registers seagoing vessels of more than 500 net tons that conduct foreign trade. Vessels over the age of 20 require a waiver as well as the vessel’s classification society being willing to issue statutory certificates to the vessel. Vessels 15 years or older must have a Status Report of the vessel’s Special Survey to be reviewed by Marine Safety. Registries charge registration and annual fees.

There must be a “genuine link” between a vessel and its flag state. Article 5(1) of the Geneva Convention on the High Seas of 1958, which came into effect in 1962, requires that “the state must effectively exercise its jurisdiction and control in administrative, technical and social matters over ships flying its flag.” There are 63 states party to that Convention. The principle was repeated in Article 91 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 (UNCLOS), which came into effect in 1994. That Convention has 167 parties.

Fiji ratified the ratified the Law of the Sea on the 25th of March 1971.

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