(Bob Rae/The Globe and Mail)- Both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion have kept their answers to questions about two captured Canadian citizens murdered by Abu Sayyaf terrorists short and simple: Canada does not pay ransom to terrorist kidnappers. It only feeds their appetites. The best way to fight this wave of violence is to say no.
It is hard to disagree with such direct, morally cogent arguments. The difficulty is that they miss another, equally compelling reality, which neither governments nor the media seem willing to discuss: The governments that say no know perfectly well that the families and friends of people kidnapped and held in various parts of the world will do whatever they can to achieve the release of their loved ones. Those same governments will, in fact, help the families make contact with skilled, professional advisers, as well as with various intermediaries who live in the shadowy world of kidnapping negotiations.
The issue is not “Do we pay ransoms?” but “Who pays the ransoms?”
...Even more complex are the shadowy intermediaries who claim to know the “real” ransom amount. In many cases. they are paid success fees, so the amounts raised by families have to be increased to meet the ever-changing financial targets. The pressures on the families are unimaginable.
My point in writing this is not to cast blame or to reveal deep, dark secrets. It is simply to encourage readers to go beyond the headlines to deal with the gritty realities of kidnappings that go completely ignored for months on end and are then covered in the news for just a few days.
Jeff Thompson, Ph.D., is a professor at Lipscomb University, researcher, mediator, and trainer. He is also involved in crisis and hostage negotiation as well as a law enforcement detective. His research includes law enforcement crisis and hostage negotiation in terrorist incidents. He received his doctorate from Griffith University Law School having researched the impact nonverbal communication has in conflict situations with respect to developing rapport, building trust, and displaying professionalism.
Dr. Thompson has presented and trained on the topic of conflict, mediation, (crisis and hostage) negotiation, communication and nonverbal communication internationally for a variety of audiences including police personnel, government officials, judges, attorneys, physicians, sales people, business professionals, and both graduate and undergraduate students. He has also been published in numerous professional and academic publications.
He is the co-chair of ACR's national Crisis Negotiation Section, and he is an ad-hoc reviewer for multiple academic journals. He received his MS in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from the Werner Institute, Creighton University School of Law.
(All posts by Jeff Thompson represent his personal reflections and opinions and not that of any organization.)