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International Court of Justice

"How to Navigate the Seas of Justice in the Interconnected World?"


The Sable Horizon Wreckship: Malaysia vs Singapore

In September 2021, the Sable Horizon, a Singapore-flagged cargo ship, fell victim to a pirate ambush orchestrated by a Malaysian pirate organization known as the “Black Tides” in the Straits of Malacca. This attack resulted in the sinking of the vessel, causing a catastrophic spill of chemical integrated circuits into the ocean, leading to extensive environmental damage. Legal proceedings have commenced, with Malaysia and Singapore locked in a dispute over responsibility for the maritime incident, culminating in allegations of environmental negligence and governmental corruption.

But how did this conflict escalate? In response to the Sable Horizon incident, Malaysia has initiated legal proceedings against Singapore, alleging that the delayed recovery of the ship violated the terms of the Sable Salvation Agreement. To address the situation, Malaysia has formed a diplomatic agreement with Singapore in which Singapore has agreed to hand over the accused pirates to Malaysia for domestic persecution. The pirates went on trial in Malaysia, and during this trial, Malaysia gained more useful evidence to accuse the Singaporean Deputy-Director-General of SIN of having contributed to the crime. Therefore, Malaysia has decided to prosecute the Deputy-Director-General as well. This prosecution is, however, refused by Singapore, as the Deputy-Director-General's position grants him immunity from criminal proceedings. Malaysia, however, ignores this refusal and continues to prosecute the Deputy-Director-General.

Flag of Malaysia

Malaysia's position: 

Malaysia, as the applicant to the ICJ, asserts that Singapore has infringed upon Malaysia's territorial sovereignty and the Sable Salvation Accord by failing to adequately prevent the pirate attack and delaying the recovery of the wrecked Sable Horizon. Moreover, Malaysia accuses Singapore of complicity in the attack, alleging that the Deputy-Director-General of the Trade Policy Committee had colluded with the pirates and received bribes from a deceased crew member, the chief engineer, in exchange for technical information about the ship. Malaysia also argues that Singapore's delayed intervention worsened the environmental damages, causing ecological destruction and affecting the livelihoods of Malaysian fishers.

Flag of Singapore

Singapore's position: 

Singapore, as the defendant to the ICJ, asserts that Malaysia's allegations are unfounded. Singapore claims that Malaysian pirates were responsible for the attack on the ship, which was flying under its flag, and that Malaysia failed to take adequate measures to prevent the attack. Furthermore, Singapore rejects the validity of the confession obtained by Malaysia and questions its legality under the Convention on the Prevention of Torture. Singapore also seeks financial restitution for the damages incurred as a result of the pirate attack, arguing that Malaysia is responsible for the costs associated with the incident.

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