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Legal Aspect of Decision Making

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Saint Vincent and the Grenadines v. Guinea International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea Case No. 2, 1999, posted at www.itlos.org.
Facts
October 1997, the M/V Saiga, an oil tanker, was engaged in selling “gas oil” to fishing and other vessels within Guinea’s exclusive economic zone. The next day, the Guinean Navy boarded the Saiga just beyond Guinea’s exclusive economic zone and the master, crew, and the ship were arrested. The government of Guinea charged the master with importing “without declaring it, merchandise that is taxable on entering national Guinean territory, in this case diesel oil” and brought criminal proceedings against him for “committing the crimes of contraband, fraud, and tax evasion.”
Procedural History
November 1997, the SVG submitted a request to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) for an order that would direct Guinea to release the Saiga and its crew. ITLOS issued an order on December 4 calling for Guinea to release the vessel and its crew upon the posting by SVG of a U.S. $400,000 letter of credit.
Issue
Was the Guinea failure to recognize the nationality of the Saiga and a violation of its rights of navigation justifiable on the ground that there was no genuine link between the ship and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Holding and Judgment
The Tribunal concluded that there is no legal basis for the claim of the Guinea that it can refuse to recognize the right of the Saiga to fly the flag of Saint Vincent and Grenadines on the ground that there was no genuine link between the Saiga and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Pre-existing Rules
Article 5, paragraph 1, of the Convention on the High Seas of 29 April 1958 (hereinafter “the 1958 Convention”), which reads, in part, as follows:
There must exist a genuine link between the state and the ship, in particular, the state must effectively exercise its…...

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