Somali pirate kingpins enjoy impunity: UN experts

2012-07-18 11:09
Somali pirate (File, AFP)

Somali pirate (File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Nairobi - Somalia's president has shielded a top pirate leader from arrest by issuing him a diplomatic passport, according to a United Nations investigation which criticises the "climate of impunity" enjoyed by pirate kingpins in Somalia and abroad.

The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia said in a report to the Security Council, seen by Reuters, that senior pirate leaders were benefitting from high level protection from Somali authorities and were not being sufficiently targeted for arrest or sanction by international authorities.

The group said it had obtained evidence a diplomatic passport had been provided "with the authorisation of Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed" to pirate leader Mohamed Abdi Hassan "Afweyne", who presented it to authorities in Malaysia on a trip there in April.

Questioned by Malaysian immigration, Afweyne provided a document issued by the Somali presidency stating he was involved in counter-piracy activities, the report said. It said that Somalia's President Ahmed had told the group the passport was "one of several inducements" for Afweyne aimed at obtaining the dismantling of his pirate network.

In a July 12 letter to the chairperson of the Security Council's Sanctions Committee, obtained by Reuters, Ahmed called the contents of the Monitoring Group's report "one-sided".

Pirate hijackings declining

The letter said the principal author of the UN report, whom it did not name, "seems hell bent on soiling the good names of private members of the Somali people by throwing at them unsubstantiated allegations".

Somali government officials in Mogadishu could not be reached for comment.

The UN report has also riled the authorities in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, who are criticised for failing to arrest well-known senior pirate leaders, in spite of a counter-piracy campaign that has reportedly resulted in the arrest of hundreds of low level pirates.

The report said that only one Puntland based pirate leader, Abshir Boyah, had been arrested by the Puntland authorities but said his jail sentence of only five years contrasted sharply with terms of up to 20 years given to junior pirate figures.

Successful Somali pirate hijackings have been declining steadily since 2010, partly the result of intensive international naval operations and the use of private security on maritime vessels, but pirate leaders are adapting and diversifying into new businesses, the UN report said.

Confirming this trend, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said on Monday that tougher action by international navies and the use of private armed guards on ships have more than halved the number of Somali pirate attacks in the first half of 2012.

Pirate chiefs escaping prosecution

Last year, Somali piracy in the busy shipping lanes of the Gulf of Aden and the northwestern Indian Ocean netted $160m, and cost the world economy some $7bn, according to the American One Earth Future foundation.

The UN report said pirate leaders are now increasingly involved in land-based kidnap for ransom of foreign tourists and aid workers in northern Kenya and Somalia, as well as selling services as counter-piracy experts and consultants in ransom negotiations, and exploring "new types of criminal activity".

"This evolution of the piracy business model is being driven largely by members of the Somali diaspora, whose foreign language skills and bank accounts are all valuable assets," it said.

UN officials say the Monitoring Group has submitted two confidential cases to the Security Council documenting the flow of piracy proceeds via international accounts and singling out a Somali businessman with British citizenship who is part of a piracy ring, but who also runs a counter-piracy business.

The group said that in spite of three international task forces and efforts by a dozen national governments in maritime counter-piracy efforts, serious legal obstacles remain that "impede the prosecution and sanctioning of pirate leaders and kingpins".

Out of 125 registered hijacking cases since December 2008 which have come under the jurisdiction of 83 different countries, not more than 10 governments have actually embarked on broader investigations into Somali pirate networks, the report said.

"As a result, the international community is investing enormous resources to pursue and punish those at the bottom of the piracy pyramid ... while virtually guaranteeing impunity for those at the top of the piracy pyramid who bear the greatest responsibility and profit the most," it said.

UK block on targeted sanctions


Confusion over whether ransom payments and drop-offs of ransoms by private security companies constitute illegal activity has also prompted Britain to block the UN Security Council from applying financial sanctions against senior pirate leaders since 2010, the report said.

With pirate leaders left untouched by UN sanctions, payments to them would not be considered illegal and therefore private security companies could pay out ransom fees without fear of violating sanctions, sources at the UN said.

The British blocking of Security Council proposals to designate senior Somali pirate leaders for targeted sanctions was "apparently at the behest of powerful domestic interests in shipping, crisis and risk management consultancies, maritime law and insurance and private maritime security companies who indirectly derive significant profits from the Somali piracy phenomenon", the report said.

Asked for comment, a foreign office spokesperson in London told Reuters the British government maintained a clear policy of not making or facilitating "substantive concessions to hostage takers, including the payment of ransoms".

The spokesperson said Britain had since April 2010 maintained "a technical hold" on proposals in the UN Sanctions Committee to designate pirate leaders for sanctions "as it is necessary to better understand the potential unintended consequences of using sanctions, which include implications for the families of UK nationals captured by pirates".

Share information on ransom payments


British Prime Minister David Cameron had set up a task force to look into piracy kidnap for ransom in more detail, including the option of UN sanctions. The task force would make recommendations by the end of the year, the foreign office said.

The UN report said the current situation had discouraged private security companies from sharing information on who they had paid money to, putting a brake on international investigations into piracy.

The Monitoring Group has asked the Security Council to explicitly clarify that ransom payments to Somali pirates could not be considered an offence that would be sanctioned.

Such a move would allow counter-piracy businesses in the UK to share information on ransom payments they make, without the fear those payments could expose them to future prosecutions, the report said.

The foreign office spokesperson said Britain was working with international partners to establish a Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecution and Intelligence Co-ordination Centre (RAPPICC) in the Seychelles, which would target pirate kingpins.

Read more on:    un  |  sharif sheikh ahmed  |  kenya  |  uk  |  somalia  |  sanctions  |  east africa  |  somali pirates
NEXT ON NEWS24X

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
10 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

SA political parties go to church

Leaders of different political parties have attended a church service at the Tyrannus Apostolic Church in De Deur.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! 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

BlackBerry Curve 8520

Wi-Fi enabled With the BlackBerry Curve 8520 connect to your home...

From R1100.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be good at organising events but they do take their toll on your energy levels. You may need some time out today just to...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.