“At the moment, governments don’t even admit how many of their citizens are being held as state hostages. The UK government refuses to release the statistics because it says it would risk revealing the identity of the captives, which is a complete non-argument. It would be a really big step forward to acknowledge how big the problem is and how much it has changed over time so that we can all get a sense of the seriousness and the growing nature of the problems.” Hostage diplomacy is on the rise.
I was pleased to contribute to this excellent and comprehensive article on state hostage taking in Investment Monitor.
I’ve written before about the things we can do now to end hostage diplomacy – this article outlines the five things the UK government should do:
- Call a spade a spade – call out states like Iran as hostage takers, rather than referring to this phenomenon as ‘arbitrary detention’.
- Stop talking about dual nationals – these are our citizens and we need to stand up for their freedom without hesitation
- Don’t legitimize the ‘legality’ of state hostage taking – the media should stop leading with false and absurd charges leveled against innocent hostages as it creates a ‘no smoke without fire’ narrative around hostage diplomacy
- Quantify the crime – report the numbers of Britons held hostage by countries like Iran and Russia – we need to understand the scale of the problem and how it’s changing over time
- Stand united, joint actions, and a team of all the talents – we need to work together, including anyone with something to offer, to end hostage diplomacy for good.