UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Oct. 14)
The General Assembly’s Sixth (Legal) Committee launched today a discussion of “Aerial Hijacking or Interference With Civil Air Travel.” heard two speakers and adjourned until an unspecified date. Carlos P. Romulo, Foreign Minister of the Philippines, said that last year’s Assembly resolution on hijacking which granted nations legal measures to combat that crime, had “thus far failed to achieve its meritorious aims,” with the incidence of hijacking greater now than then. Gen. Romulo referred to a report by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) indicating that from Jan. 1. 1969, to last July 1, there were 18 incidents of skyjacking and 14 incidents of airline sabotage and armed attacks involving 7,000 passengers and the aircraft of 87 countries. Such incidents have risen sharply since July 1, he noted, recommending that the Assembly deal with the problem “in much the same way as it has expressed itself on flagrant violations of human rights.”
It was the Philippines, her Foreign Minister emphasized, that had placed the hijacking item on the committee’s agenda. Gen. Romulo, a former Assembly president and former ambassador to the United States, said the item had been inscribed “primarily for humanitarian reasons, without any political or ideological motivation.” Robert Fack, the representative of the Netherlands, also called for a strengthening of last year’s resolution to halt the rise in “forceful diversion” of aircraft. “With the experience of recent months in the forefront of our memories,” Mr. Fack said in apparent reference to the hijackings by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, “we must also take into account the fact that large numbers of innocent persons…may become involved.” The speaker called on the Assembly to “speak out” on the “grave” matter by voting “additional elements” to strengthen last year’s resolution. He described those elements as “rapid, strong and effective” national and international measures to deter acts of air piracy and sabotage.