Panama recalls ambassador to Ecuador over held vessel

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-12-17 8:20:53

Panama Monday recalled its ambassador to Ecuador to express its unease at the repeated refusal of the Ecuadorian government to return the Panamanian fishing vessel Doria, held by the Ecuadorian Navy since October 13.

The Panamanian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Ecuador has attempted to link the case of the vessel with its extradition request for former Ecuadorian congressman Galo Tito Lara Yepez, who was given asylum in Panama.

The statement said Ecuador has not presented any legal documents to support the extradition request, while Panama has reaffirmed its asylum policy for citizens lacking full rights under the law in their countries of origin.

The Doria, which sails under a Panamanian flag, was seized 126 nautical miles off the Ecuadorian coast, in international waters outside of its jurisdiction, in open violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which both countries have signed, Panama says.

According to the convention, the statement said, Ecuadorian authorities should have notified the government of Panama before carrying out the operation and handed over the vessel to Panamanian officials to clarify the lines of responsibility established by the law.

Panama affirms Ecuador never officially notified it that it had detained the vessel and its five crew members.

It claims that Ecuador's Interior Minister Jose Serrano has publicly committed to immediately releasing the vessel, its cargo and crew, but that has yet to happen, which "is a demonstration of the Ecuadorian government's clear intention to delay the process."

Posted in: Americas

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