UN urges Somali pirate clampdown

2010-04-27 21:28

Geneva - The UN Security Council on Tuesday unanimously adopted a Russian-drafted resolution urging all states to toughen legislation aimed at prosecuting and jailing pirates caught off Somalia.

The 15-member body appealed to all states, including those in the Horn of Africa, "to criminalise piracy under their domestic law and favourably consider the prosecution of suspected, and imprisonment of convicted pirates" arrested of the coast of Somalia.

The text also asked UN chief Ban Ki-moon to present to the council within three months a report outlining various options of a stronger international legal system to deal with acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off Somalia.

Options should focus on creating special domestic chambers, possibly with international components, a regional tribunal or an international tribunal and corresponding jailing arrangements.

Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin hailed the adoption of what he called "an important anti-piracy initiative" that sends "an important political message that the international community is determined to combat" the scourge and ensure that suspected pirates are effectively prosecuted.

African co-operation

Moscow has been concerned by reports that coastal zone countries such as Kenya decided to stop prosecution of suspected Somali pirates because of the heavy strain on their over-populated prisons and congested courts.

An international armada of warships has patrolled an area in the north of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden for more than a year in a bid to curb piracy.

But countries which have captured pirates have often had difficulty bringing them to justice because of legal technicalities.

On Monday the EU offered support to Kenya and the Seychelles to continue to judge and jail suspected Somali pirates, as Nairobi moves to cancel agreements on their prosecution.

EU nations are reluctant to try suspects captured by the force in busy shipping lanes in the Gulf of Aden but the bloc cannot send them to any country where they might face abuse or the death penalty.

More than 100 suspects have been transferred to Kenya by Western and other warships patrolling the Indian Ocean to combat piracy.

Kenya has memoranda of understanding with the EU, US, Canada, Denmark, China and Britain whereby it takes in suspects intercepted at sea and prosecutes them in courts in Mombasa.

Somalia has had no effective central authority since former president Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991, setting off a bloody cycle of clashes between rival factions.