Liberia's flags of convenience

Common maritime business practice hinders efforts to pin down responsible parties when things go wrong.

    The container ship Rena is stuck on a reef in New Zealand's waters and has been leaking oil into the sea for over a week.

    The ship is registered in Liberia, a country well known for offering ship owners "flags of convenience", a business practice that allows ship owners to register their vessels in an alternate sovereign state to their place of origin.

    In the case of Rena, the ship is owned by Greeks, registered in Liberia and operated by a Filipino crew - most likely to avoid stricter health, safety and employment regulations enforced in Greece.

    The benefits to developing countries like Liberia are large fees that foreign ship owners have to pay to register their vessels under their flag. But in cases like that of the Rena, the flags of convenience system raises questions about where responsibility, and culpability, lies. 

    Al Jazeera's Yvonne Ndege reports from the Liberian capital, Monrovia.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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