Gibraltar demands action from UK, after latest incident with Spain’s Guardia Civil
The Gibraltar government has told the UK that 'the time has now come for action, not simply written protests from London to Madrid' in defence of British Gibraltar Territorial Waters, following the latest incident where a Gibraltar vessel was boarded by the Guardia Civil in Gibraltar waters 'and forcibly conveyed' together with its occupants to Algeciras 'at high speed and without navigational lights.'
A Gibraltar government statement issued Sunday condemns the Spanish actions and adds that this latest incident on Friday night, as indeed all the others in recent years, 'are totally outside international law and the bounds of acceptable neighbourly behaviour.'
The strongly worded statement says that 'this belligerent act of provocation by the para-military armed forces of Spain cannot be allowed to go by unchallenged.'
The occupants, two British Gibraltarians, were illegally detained. This criminal false arrest and illegal detention continued for almost two hours, says the statement, which roundly condemns 'these criminal acts by Guardia Civil officers.'
The Gibraltar government adds: 'Guardia Civil actions such as these are not only invasions of our territorial sea which must be repelled by the Royal Navy; they also amount to criminal acts of unlawful detention, trespass and false imprisonment.'
All civic and political groups in Gibraltar will want to unite to roundly condemn these criminal acts by Guardia Civil officers, declare them unacceptable and call upon the United Kingdom Government to make good on its repeated position - most recently and clearly set out in the White Paper on the Overseas Territories - to defend the territorial integrity of Gibraltar by all means at its disposal in a reasonable, measured but effective way.
The time has now come for action, not simply written protests from London to Madrid.
The United Kingdom needs to ask itself how it would act if these events had been perpetrated by Argentine paramilitary forces in the oil and fish rich waters around the Falkland Islands or in the areas around the coast of the British Isles.
If necessary, the UK should further bolster the resources available in Gibraltar to defend the integrity of British Gibraltar Territorial Waters whilst at the same time use the full resources of its diplomatic arsenal to ensure that Spanish officials appreciate that the actions of the Guardia Civil officers involved are bankrupt of all legitimacy and are counterproductive in the extreme.
For its part, as has already been made public, the Government has already acquired new vessels for the RGP to assist in law enforcement activities. Two of these are the vessels that have already been delivered and other, larger vessels are in the process of being ordered and delivered in stages in coming months.
The lengthy statement calls for action by the UK to deliver 'maximum protection of the sovereignty, jurisdiction and control of the British Gibraltar Territorial Waters in every material respect'.