End piracy at sea now - Icopas

2011-10-19 22:43

Stockholm - The international community should act now and "not 20 years from now" to end the spiralling problem of piracy at sea, especially off Somalia, an international conference said on Wednesday.

In a draft declaration, the three-day International Conference on Piracy at Sea (Icopas) described the the humanitarian and economic costs of piracy as "unacceptable".

"Political will, effort [and] co-ordination are needed to address the root causes and to deter and defeat piracy," said the declaration, calling on the United Nations to create a "Maritime Enforcement Mandate" within Somalia's economic zone to protect Somali and international interests.

"The reality is that a few hundred [people]... are being held against their will in Somalia and a few other parts of the world," said conference chair Maximo Mejia of the World Maritime University

"Something needs to be done about the situation today, not 20 years from now, not 30 years from now," he added, speaking at the close of the three-day conference in the southern town of Malmoe.

This year there have been a record 352 pirate attacks worldwide, according to a report this week by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

Somali pirates, who have created an industry based on hijackings and ransom payments in the strategic waters next to their lawless homeland, accounted for 199 of the attacks, up from 126 during the same period last year, according to the report.

"People in the maritime] industry have been stretched to their limit of patience," Mejia said.

The 410 conference participants from around the world "were not optimistic but still hopeful" that the international community and national governments would do more to end the "scourge", he said.

Big fat can of worms

Among their many recommendations, the participants called on the international community to develop "innovative international tools to overcome the constraints of national boundaries and jurisdiction in dealing with piracy".

They also demanded that national governments "honour their obligations to successfully prosecute and punish pirates".

"There is a whole laundry list of things that need to be done," Mejia said, adding though that perhaps the most important focus should be on putting "Somalia back on its feet".

"You can only eradicate piracy if you get at its roots. What is piracy but a manifestation of the problems they are experiencing on land?"

"If you had pirates here, you'd have police and the navy to combat the threat, but there, there is no navy, there is no police, there is no government. It's a big fat can of worms," he pointed out.

The conference addressed a number of contentious issues, Mejia said, mentioning the use of privately contracted security personnel to help ward off pirate attacks and especially how to handle the fact that many if not most of the pirates who are caught were under the age of 18.

"It is becoming more and more apparent. It's really the rule rather than the exception [that the pirates are under 18] and that has international legal implications.... You can't really prosecute these people as pirates, but more as juvenile offenders," he said.

  • Ric - 2011-10-20 01:04

    Mostly juveniles... So we can't prosecute them because they're juveniles, but they're old enough to hijack an ocean going vessel?! This is madness. All you need to stop this is about four .50 cal machine guns mounted fore, aft, port and starboard and some guys who know how to use them with a bit of night vision thrown in for good measure and Bob's your uncle. Let's face it, these guys attack in little skiffs many km offshore - if they don't come home after a day's piracy... well, the sea is a dangerous place. This is a prime example of the West hamstringing itself with 1st World laws in a 3rd world environment where the aggressors obey no law...

      Yar - 2011-10-20 05:51

      Spot on Ric If this approach (Rule 303) is properly applied, there should be few witnesses no evidence. Blast away.

      sven.gohre - 2011-10-20 11:30

      Ric, they should bring back the old punishment for Piracy. Hang them high from the nearest yardarm. That should bring and end to piracy, but not before most of them are left hanging for the rest to see. If a thousand or more hangings have to take place, I do not see the problem of stringing even 14 year old's up if they are part of a Pirate crew.

  • hadedah - 2011-10-20 08:42

    We should go back to the old days where pirates were caught found guilty of piracy on the ship by the Captain and hung from the yardarms so that all could see. this so called civilised time we live in is to soft prisons are full of criminals who committed horrifying crimes who should have been given the death sentence. Rapists should also have there private parts surgically removed so they never can rape again. hadedah

  • Robin - 2011-10-20 10:13

    The World has gone soft in the (collective) head! A pirate is a pirate is a pirate, no matter what his or her age. They should be blasted from the sea in such a way that they appear to have simply vapourised - no witnesses, no evidence, no apologies, no kid glove approach, no sympathies.

  • Warwick - 2011-10-20 12:34

    This is the very reason why under 18's are used. Because they know the soft in the head liberal west will do nothing. This is not a manefestation of what is going on in Somalia but a huge business run by very clever men who are making billions off the soft, limp wristed liitle boys in the west. You need a proactive approach where every little "fishing" boat is stopped, searched and any weapons simply thrown overboard. I mean these so called fisherman do not need AK 47's and rocket propelled grenades to fish do they? How difficult can this be.

  • badballie - 2011-10-20 12:48

    We are already actively guarding ships at ssea, its time for the bleeding hearts to catch a serious wake up and start letting us us deadly force when attacked. The current situation is not acceptable. Pirates are criminals and ship owners must be given the right to use whatever force is necessary to ewnsure tha safety of its crew and cargo. Being expected to use no or very little force against an attacking boat which is firing rockets and using automatic machine guns is notr only a joke its an insult to the men putting their lives on the line to protect the ships.

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