Pirates operating in legal void - expert

2010-11-20 14:52
Paris -With pirates terrorising the shipping industry by hijackings in the busy waterway off Somalia's coast, legal experts are chasing their tails trying to find a way to put them in the dock.

Some suspected pirates have been taken to face justice in Germany, where 10 Somalis are due to go on trial in Hamburg on Monday accused of attacking a German cargo ship.

But Kenya, which last year signed a deal with western states to try suspected pirates in its courts, was forced to acquit 26 suspected Somali pirates this month and said handling the cases was too big a burden.

Pirates based in lawless Somali territory have been bagging millions of dollars in ransoms for boats seized around the Gulf of Aden, though warships from various countries patrolling the passage have overpowered some.

But even if the pirates are caught, the lack of central rule in Somalia since a 1991 civil war makes it impossible to put them on trial there, experts say.

'Legal void'

A lawyer specialising in maritime law, Isabelle Corbier, said Somali suspects arrested in international waters fall into a "legal void".

The suspects in the German case were arrested by the Dutch navy when it freed the ship and flown to the Netherlands after Germany issued European arrest warrants. A Dutch court ruled they could be extradited to Germany.

But observers say the scourge can only really be tackled by setting up effective courts in Somalia itself - a risky and complicated task in a volatile land largely controlled by Islamist militants.

"For an effective jurisdictional system, the Somalis absolutely must be involved," said Jack Lang, a French former minister who is now a United Nations special adviser on piracy.

"The ideal thing would be for legal authorities to intercede on Somali territory," starting with the relatively stable autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland, he told AFP.

Disjointed leadership

Constituting such a court would be tricky given Somalia's diverse forms of law and its disjointed leadership, experts say.

"In Somaliland, a territory where there is authority, they do not like pirates. If that was made the case throughout Somalia, they would go to jail for 20 years," said Gerard Prunier, a regional specialist.

"In Puntland, an entity without total legitimacy where lots of the pirates come from, they will spend two weeks in prison," he added. "As for the Somali federal transition government, it has completely lost its legitimacy."

More than 700 suspected and convicted pirates are now in detention in 12 countries, more than half of them in Somalia, the executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov, said earlier this month.

To try them, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has proposed among other plans setting up a court under Somali authority in a neighbouring country. Efforts by some countries to try pirates in their own courts have faltered.

Kenya is trying 69 suspected pirates and has convicted 50 and the Seychelles has convicted 22, Fedotov told the Security Council. But he added that the trials "pose a heavy burden for countries in the region".

Courts in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa acquitted 17 Somali suspects for lack of evidence on November 5 and a high court ruled in the case of nine other suspects that Kenya had no jurisdiction over piracy in international waters.

Kenya has indicated it is not ready to renew the agreement allowing it to try Somali pirates. Acting Foreign Minister George Saitoti said it put a heavy burden on the country's resources and called for an international conference on the issue.

- SAPA
Read more on:    somalia  |  east africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
5 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

Watch: 2015 Absa Cape Epic route

The route of the 2015 Absa Cape Epic has been announced and it promises to be as challenging as ever!

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

4 exercise excuses and how to beat them
Watch: Insane road bike skills!
The most extreme journey ever?
Red Bull Lionheart trail run - not for the fainthearted!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a strong desire to be self sufficient, right and in control today. There is a tendency to hold on too tightly to your...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.