Monday, August 19, 2013
The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) has announced that it will hold public hearings beginning on September 2, 2013 to hear oral arguments in the case of the M/V Virginia between Panama and Guinea-Bissau.
Panama initiated this proceeding pursuant to Annex VII of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The parties subsequently reached a special agreement to submit the matter to the ITLOS in July 2011. According to Panama, an oil tanker bearing its flag, the M/V Virginia, was carrying out refueling operations in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Guinea Bissau when authorities from Guinea-Bissau boarded the vessel, escorted it to a port in Guinea-Bissau and arrested it. The vessel was released on October 2010 after 14 months in detention. Panama claims the actions of Guinea-Bissau were unlawful and caused material damage to the vessel as well as losses to the owner, operator and crew. It therefore is claiming reparations in the amount of approximately 4 million euro.
For its part, Guinea-Bissau claims that Panama violated article 91 of UNCLOS by allowing a vessel without any genuine connection to Panama to fly its flag and by faciliating the illegal bunkering operations of the vessel in Guinea-Bissau's EEZ. Guinea-Bissau has counter-claimed for damages.
For more information regarding this case and the public hearings, see this ITLOS press release.