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12 Somali clan chiefs 'run pirate gangs'

2011-01-26 09:03

New York - The international community must hunt the dozen Somali clan chiefs who run the pirate attacks on international shipping in the Indian Ocean, a UN advisor told the Security Council on Tuesday.

Amid mounting international concern over the attacks and hostage-taking, former French minister Jack Lang said "we need to tackle the force behind the pirates, those who order the pirates to carry out their attacks".

Presenting a report which recommended new security and legal weapons, Lang told the 15-nation Security Council "not everything has been done to get to the top and capture the brains behind these crimes".

"There are about a dozen brains of them. We know their names," he added without giving details, but calling for better international police and intelligence work while the United Nations could take "individual sanctions".

Lang's report suggests establishing a court under Somali jurisdiction but based in a foreign country to try the hundreds of Somali pirates now held in prisons around the world.

Tanzania was "open" to hosting the court, he said, but some Security Council diplomats believe it would take too long to get such a tribunal operating.

Pirates are currently detained in about 13 countries and Malaysia and South Korea said on Tuesday they intend to prosecute 12 Somali pirates captured in separate sea raids by their militaries last week.

Significant measures


Lang's report said the multinational naval force in the Indian Ocean should patrol closer to the pirates' coastal hideouts in Somalia and called for economic incentives to dissuade Somali youths from joining the buccaneers.

Somali pirates have captured nearly 2 000 people and been paid ransoms of up to $9.5m for seized tankers since 2008. As of December 31, 612 people and 26 ships were still being held, according to UN figures.

An international contact group meeting on tracking money from Somalia piracy will be held in Washington on March 01, the US ambassador Susan Rice said.

And Russia's UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said his country will soon announce new proposals to clampdown on the pirates.

"The time has come to take significant measures to take the combat against this threat to a new level," Churkin said. Piracy is "taking on the characteristics of a chronic disease and expanding alarmingly".

"If something is not done we will lose control of the situation in the Horn of Africa," the Russian ambassador told the Security Council.