A world-wide agreement providing for severe penalties and extradition to discourage hijackings is being worked out at an international conference which began in The Hague on Tuesday (1 December).
A world-wide agreement providing for severe penalties and extradition to discourage hijackings is being worked out at an international conference which began in The Hague on Tuesday (1 December). Two hundred and fifty delegates from 65 of the 120 member countries of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a specialised agency of the United Nations, will spend two weeks debating the text of the draft convention, which will then be opened for signature.
Monday's session bean with an opening at which Dutch Justice Minister Polack welcomed the delegates tot eh conference and stressed the importance of reaching an effective agreement, one which would be an enrichment of international las? as other Hague Convention have been in the past.
The proposed convention already has the blessing of the United Nations. The General Assembly passed a resolution last week by 105 votes to eight, calling on all states to work for the success of the current conference. The Assembly urged cooperation between the United Nations and ICAO to bring an effective convention into force as soon as possible, so that passengers, crew and aircraft engaged in civil aviation should not be used as a means of extorting any kind of advantage.
So far, the Tokyo Convention of 1963 is the only international treaty dealing with hijacking, but it only covers offences actually committed on board aircraft and does not deal with penalties for hijacking. The treaty has so far been ratified by 30 states.
The draft convention before the conference in The Hague provides for legal measures to cover unlawful acts on board an aircraft registered in a signatory state and for proceedings against an alleged offender when he is still on board the aircraft when it lands on the territory of a signatory state.
The draft convention also treats hijacking as an extraditable offence.
Among the nations represented at the opening session and the first stages of the conference on Tuesday were the Soviet Union, the United Arab Republic, New Zealand, Malaysia, Uganda, Ireland, Guatemala and Canada. Although many of the Middle Eastern nations are taking part in the conference, Cuba is not.