Anti-Piracy Campaign Continues


Seafarers Log, May 2011

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Recognizing the need for further steps to boost anti-piracy efforts, the United Nations Security Council on April 11 supported the idea of special courts to try suspected pirates both in Somalia and elsewhere in the region.

 

In a unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-member council, meeting in New York, stressed the need for “a comprehensive response to tackle piracy and its underlying causes by the international community.” The group outlined a wide array of measures to more effectively counter what it described as “the scourge of piracy.”

 

Meanwhile, the SIU and its rank-and-file membership continued actively supporting the recently launched “Save Our Seafarers” (SOS) campaign – a global effort backed by major maritime organizations from all segments of the industry.

 

Among other components, the campaign includes prominent advertising and a regularly updated web site (www.saverourseafarers.com) featuring the latest piracy news and a user-friendly form facilitating contact with politicians whose attention is needed to help fight piracy.

 

As reported when the movement kicked off in early March, the campaign has six specific goals: reducing the effectiveness of the easily identifiable pirate mother ships; authorizing naval forces to detain pirates and deliver them for prosecution and punishment; fully criminalizing all acts of piracy and intent to commit piracy under national laws in accordance with their mandatory duty to cooperate to suppress piracy under international conventions; increasing naval assets available to fight piracy; providing greater protection and support for seafarers; and tracing and criminalizing the organizers and financiers behind the criminal networks.

 

Campaign sponsors include the following organizations, which collectively represent virtually every part of the global maritime industry: International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF, to which the SIU is affiliated); Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO); International Chamber of Shipping (ICS); International Shipping Federation (ISF); International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (Intercargo); and International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO).

 

The aforementioned UN Security Council resolution asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report back within two months on the most effective ways to prosecute suspected pirates. Currently, most of the ones who are captured eventually are released because there isn’t a viable way to put them on trial. The six-page document said the council “decides to urgently consider the establishment of specialized
Somali courts to try suspected pirates both in Somalia and in the region, including an extraterritorial Somali specialized antipiracy court.”

 

The resolution also called on nations to cooperate on combating hostage-taking and to criminalize piracy under their respective domestic laws. The statement further asked for cooperation from member States to act upon “the need to investigate and prosecute those who illicitly finance, plan, organize, or unlawfully profit from pirate attacks off the Somali coast.”

 

In its previous resolutions, the council has authorized States and regional organizations to enter Somalia’s territorial waters and use “all necessary means” to fight piracy, such as deploying naval vessels and military aircraft, as well as seizing and disposing of boats, vessels, arms and related equipment used for piracy.

 

In the text adopted last month, it recognized that the ongoing instability in Somalia is one of the underlying causes of the problem of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of the Horn of Africa nation.

 

“Somalia – which has not had a functioning central government since 1991 – has been torn apart by decades of conflict and factional strife, more recently with al-Shabaab Islamic militants,” the UN reported when it announced its most recent antipiracy declaration. “The country is also facing a dire humanitarian crisis in which 2.4 million people are in need of assistance.”


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