The Minister of Foreign Affairs on the lawfulness of the payment of ransoms

On 16 January 2015, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Paolo Gentiloni Silveri, appeared before the Chamber of Deputies in order to report about the liberation of Vanessa Marzullo and Greta Ramelli, two Italian aid workers kidnapped in Syria in July 2014. Addressing the allegation that Italy had paid a ransom to secure the liberation of its nationals, the Minister denied that this is the Italian practice in matters of kidnapping and made reference to an alleged international rule prohibiting the payment of ransoms. In the words of Mr Gentiloni:

As to the topic of ransoms, I read comments and leaks devoid of any actual basis and, occasionally, even made public by terrorist groups. I am surprised by the fact that these insinuations and sources have been deemed reliable by some people without any previous verification. I hereby reaffirm that, in matters of kidnappings, Italy abides by rules and behaviours shared by the international community and we have acted consistently with what has been done in the past by all Italian Governments: this is not the position of my Cabinet, it is the position of Italy.

[…] We are against the payment of ransoms and take part, together with the countries I have cited before [i.e., France, Spain, Denmark and the United States, ed.], in the multilateral fight against ransom-oriented kidnapping; whenever Italian citizens are kidnapped, our absolute priority is the protection of the life and physical integrity of our nationals.

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