NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

A Vicious Cycle Of Kidnappings And Ransoms

September 14, 2000

Political kidnappings occur because they usually produce ransoms of one sort or another -- and those rewards are not always monetary. Experts agree that denying rewards to kidnappers is the most effective way of discourage them. And some countries, most notably Italy, have made it illegal to pay ransoms.

But throughout the world taking hostages for ransom is on the increase -- and in some areas has become a way of life.

  • Last year, the numbers of people taken captive increased by 6 percent over 1998 -- and kidnappings for ransom are up by 70 percent over eight years.
  • In Colombia, rebels block off roads and swoop down on unsuspecting foreigners and rich locals, hoping for a big payoff -- a process known as "miraculous fishing."
  • In the delta region of Nigeria, oil workers are snatched in return for money -- or even for jobs.
  • In Yemen, villages win public works for releasing unwary tourists.

Source: "The Price of Paying Ransoms," Economist, September 2, 2000.


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