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News Summary from
Allied Maritime Command HQ Northwood

22 June 2012

 

 

 

South Africa couple freed from Somali pirates

BBC News

Two South Africans held hostage by Somali pirates for 20 months have been freed.

Somalia's defence minister said the Somali army and security forces started the rescue of Deborah Calitz and Bruno Pelizzari on Wednesday night.

Ms Calitz and Mr Pelizzari were kidnapped while they were sailing in the Indian Ocean off east Africa in October 2010.

Defence Minister Hussein Arab Isse did not say whether a ransom had been paid.

Long captivity

The pirates had originally demanded $10m (£6m) in return for the release of Ms Calitz and Mr Pelizzari.

 

The couple's 20-month captivity is among the longest periods any hostages have been held by Somali pirates.

The couple were working as crew on a yacht on its way from Tanzania to South Africa when they were hijacked.

The ship's captain, Peter Eldridge, refused to leave with the pirates and was rescued by the European Union's anti-piracy force.

The freed hostages appeared alongside Mr Isse at a news conference in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu.

"We are very happy to get our freedom again. We are so happy today and to join our families again," Ms Calitz said.

A British yachting couple, Paul and Rachel Chandler, were held for more than a year, before being freed in November 2010.

Mr Isse said further rescue raids would take place, referring to a French intelligence agent who was kidnapped in Mogadishu in July 2009.

"We know the whereabouts of the rest of the hostages, including the French agent, and if the kidnappers fail to free them, we will forcefully rescue them," Mr Isse said.

The European Union Naval Force in Somalia estimates that 213 hostages are currently being held by pirates.

Up to 10 EU naval ships now patrol the waters off the Horn of Africa, which are some of the world's busiest shipping and humanitarian aid routes.

The anti-piracy force's mandate, which first started in 2008, was expanded earlier this year and it is now allowed to carry out attacks on the Somali coast against suspected pirates.

 

MFA, DP World Organize Second Counter-Piracy Conference in Dubai, UAE

World Maritime News

The very real human impact of piracy on seafarers and their families is told in a documentary made especially for the second Counter-Piracy Conference convened by the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and DP World, to be held in Dubai June 27-28, premiering on Day One of the conference. It includes interviews with two seafarers held captive for 11 months and their families, with a captain about to set sail through waters where pirates operate, and with the daughters of a captain who was hijacked with his crew more than 19 months ago and who is still being held.

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, DP World Chairman said, “The terrible impact of piracy on the lives of seafarers and their families is often buried in a debate that includes discussions about security guards on board vessels, the rising costs of piracy to shipping and trade, and where pirates should be tried and imprisoned. While that debate is necessary and important, we should not lose sight of the appalling humanitarian cost that directly affects seafarerswho sail into a nightmare as they go about their daily work.”

Mohammed Sharaf, Group CEO, DP World, said, “The extending geographic range of pirates’ attacks and the increasing levels of violence are extremely alarming, not just because of their adverse implications for commercial and security interests of nations, organisations and those involved in trade, but most importantly because of the human lives impacted. DP World commissioned this documentary to raise awareness of that issue.”

“The areas patrolled by pirates are the busiest trade lanes in the world, and an estimated 100,000 seafarers sail through those areas annually. With this moving documentary we aim to stimulate debate to help find a sustainable solution to the root causes of piracy,” Mr Sharaf said.

The International Conference, to be held under the title “A Regional Response to Maritime Piracy: Enhancing Public-Private Partnerships and Strengthening Global Engagement“, will build on current global efforts to address the challenges of pirate attacks on ships, including its devastating human cost, and ways to enhance efforts to address the root causes that have led to piracy in Somalia and other places.

According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), as many as 43 pirate attacks were carried out by Somali pirates in the first quarter of 2012. The IMB estimatesannual financial cost to global trade is up to $12bn. 

Somalia Tops failed states index for fifth year

CNN

Six African nations are in the top 10 of an annual failed-state index, including Somalia, which heads the list for the fifth straight year after continued struggles with lawlessness and piracy.

Somalia tops the 2012 Failed States Index because of “widespread lawlessness, ineffective government, terrorism, insurgency, crime, and well-publicized pirate attacks against foreign vessels,” the list’s compiler, Washington-based nonprofit Fund for Peace, said on its website Monday.

The group’s eighth annual list, which ranks instability risks of 177 nations based on 12 social, economic and political indicators, was published Monday by Foreign Policy magazine. Nations ranking high on the list aren’t necessarily failed states, but are facing enormous pressure stemming from factors such as uneven development, economic decline and human-rights issues, according to Fund for Peace.

 The first formal discussions between feuding neighbours Somaliland and Somalia concluded

Somalilandpress

The first formal discussions between feuding neighbours Somaliland and Somalia concluded on Thursday, with the two sides agreeing to an 8-point plan including future talks.

There has been no official breakthrough, but some progress was made during the last day of the technical-level meeting in the official guest house of Chevening House. Future dialogue, security, development and the transitional period topped Thursday’s discussions.

The UK and its co-hosts, Norway and the EU, said the aim of the meeting was to support the sides to “establish a framework for future substantive talks.”

A statement jointly issued by both sides said they have powerful reasons not to abandon the talks insisting on their commitment for future dialogue.

While a gulf remains between the two Somali states, points 3, 4, and 5 in the Chevening document under paragraph 5 have injected some optimism into a possible future dialogue.

In point-3 of the plan, the declaration and its participants have acknowledged the existence of two presidents and urged them to meet to “review progress as soon as possible”.

Point-4, has spelled out the need for the international community to facilitate talks between the sides including “providing external experts on legal, economic and security matters.”

Point-5 pressed the need for the two sides to cooperate in development and humanitarian aid with the international community. This might clear the way for the international community to finally assist Somaliland directly like the British government.

Despite the very wide gap, they were able to agree on issues such as combating piracy at sea and on land, toxic dumping, extremism and other criminal activities. The parties also agreed to support the end of transition in Somalia.

The host bodies have urged both sides to fulfill the promises they pledged during the London and Istanbul II conferences and this week’s Chevening House Declaration.

Dr Abdulsamad Mo’alin Mohamed, the TFG interior minister and head of Somalia delegates, said the talks have concluded with positive outcome. “The talks went for two intense days and to be frank, they have produced positive agreement and I hope we continue into the next phase,” he said.

Sources close to the Somaliland president Ahmed Silanyo said that he has welcomed the outcome and that he is keen on meeting with TFG president Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.

The two are expected to meet sometime within this month in Dubai in the UAE for the first bilateral talks in two decades.

Held behind closed-doors, each side was represented by a five member delegation consisting of ministerial, opposition and members of parliament. Somaliland was led by its foreign affairs minister Dr Abdullahi Mohamed Omar and Somalia was represented by the TFG interior minister.

Here’s a summary of Chevening Declaration:

5 – The Participants:

Agreed that the talks would take place between two sides – the TFG (or its replacement) and Somaliland, in accordance with paragraph 6 of the London Conference Communiqué and paragraph 10 of the Istanbul II Conference Communiqué;

Noted the need to adopt a common approach to avoid anything that would undermine the continuation of the talks as defined above;

Committed to the continuation of the talks and called on the two presidents to meet to review progress as soon as possible;

 Called on the international community to continue to facilitate the talks, including providing the two sides with external experts on legal, economic and security matters;

Agreed to share experience on working more effectively with the international community on the use of development and humanitarian assistance for the people of both sides and called for the international community to increase that assistance;

Agreed to cooperate in the fight against terrorism, extremism and serious crimes;

Agreed to cooperate in the fight against piracy at sea and on land, maritime crime, illegal fishing and toxic dumping; and

Reiterated their support for ending the Transition in Somalia.

 21 June 2012

Somali Pirates Kill Each Other in the Coast Town of Hobyo

AllAfrica Shabelle Media Ntework (Mogadishu)

Hobyo — At least one person was reportedly killed and many others were injured as two heavily armed Somali pirate groups fired at each other in the coastal district Hobyo, Mudug region on Monday morning, reports said.

Witnesses in Hobyo town, north-central Mudug region of Somalia, said the fighting erupted when a bunch of pirates tried to apprehend forcibly another pirate gang in the group, and then started firing guns at each other.

"We woke up this morning hearing the barrage of bullets and sounds of artillery fire exchanging between two groups of Somali pirates in Hobyo town. The fighting continued for hours and one pirate has been slain in that combat, a resident told Shabelle Media via phone from Hobyo.

According to the latest reports indicated that the situation returned to calm and the skirmish subsided. The fighting halted for moment the movement of people and vehicles, frustrating locals.

The town of Honyo in Mudug region of -North-central Somalia is believed to be one of pirates hide outs in the country where they can operate without much interference.

Somali pirates have attacked hundreds of vessels in the Arabian Sea andIndian Ocean region, though most attacks do not result in a successful hijacking.

Netherlands beefs up anti-piracy forces

UPI.Com

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, June 19 (UPI) -- The Netherlands will boost its military contribution to the NATO force fighting piracy in Somali waters after the country's Parliament approved funding.

The Dutch Parliament voted last week to spend $16.5 million to provide extra personnel, two Cougar helicopters and an unmanned aerial vehicle to join Operation Ocean Shield, in which NATO warships and aircraft have been patrolling the waters off the Horn of Africa.

Also part of the new deployment will be an additional submarine to join the mission in the second half of 2012, Radio Netherlands reported.

The Netherlands has committed two vessels to Operation Ocean Shield as part of the expansion of forces. They include the helicopter-carrying frigate Evertsen, which is on its way to the region, and the amphibious transport ship Rotterdam, which will carry the two Cougar helicopters as well as the drone, the national broadcaster said.

 Rescued From Somali Pirates, Seamen Sue

By Chris Coughlin Courthouse News Service

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CN) - Two seamen claim in Federal Court that Somali pirates held them hostage for eight months after their employers sent them into pirate-infested waters without adequate security.
The men were second assistant engineers on the tanker company. On or about May 8, 2010, the subject vessel was in the Gulf of Arden en route from Kandla, Gujarat to Antwerp, Belgium when Somali pirates hijacked the subject vessel," the complaint states.
The Two Seamenn say they endured eight months of physical, mental abuse and torture while the owners of the ship negotiated for their release.
The Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 requires owners and operators of "vessels and facilities that the Secretary believes may be involved in a transportation security incident" to prepare a security plan "for deterring a transportation incident to the maximum practicable," the complaint states.
The two seamen say the defendants failed to submit a security plan for normal scenarios, and for situations including pirates and hostages.
They claim the defendants violated the Jones Act by ordering the ship through "pirate-infested waters," failed to procure adequate security for the ship, failed to report the incident to the U.S. Coast Guard in a timely manner, and "failed to conduct negotiations with the pirates in an adequate and/or timely manner."
They claim the ship was not seaworthy in that "the vessel did not have adequate security, including, but not limited to, weapons and/or non-lethal methods of resisting intruders generally and pirates specifically ... the vessel did not have a ship security system" and "the vessel and/or its crewmembers did not have an adequate security plan in according with the MTSA and the United States Coast Guard."
Under the General Maritime Law and by operation of treaty, plaintiffs, as seamen, are entitled to recover maintenance and cure from Defendants, until they are declared to have reached maximum possible cure," the complaint states.
It adds: "Defendants willfully and callously delayed, failed and refused to pay plaintiffs' entire maintenance and cure so that plaintiffs have become obligated to pay the undersigned a reasonable attorney's fee. In addition, defendants were late in paying maintenance and cure when they did pay it."

Maritime Trade Unions Urge UN to Tackle Piracy Problem

VLADIVOSTOK (RIA Novosti)

Leaders of the international maritime trade unions wrote a letter to the United Nations urging the organization to take action against the increasing attacks of pirates on civilian vessels, Nikolai Sukhanov, the chairman of the Russian Professional Union of Sailors, said on Monday.

“Cases of sailors’ abductions by pirates continue. Representatives of the fisheries committees with the International Transport Federation voice concern that sailors are still objected to humiliation and injuries as they are abducted by pirates,” he said.

“Unfortunately, ransom is still the only guarantee for a safe liberation of sailors, but trade union leaders note that some countries want to prohibit paying ransoms,” Sukhanov added.

He said that if the payment of ransoms for the release of captured sailors is ruled as illegal, it would lead to unpredictable consequences and jeopardize the lives of sailors in case of pirate attacks.

Somali pirates pose a significant threat in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea, where they have robbed and seized numerous vessels. Some shipping firms have started hiring armed security to protect their ships from pirates. Since 2010, there have been regular attacks on vessels in the western Indian Ocean approaching the coast of India.

Somali Pirates: 24 Year Sentence in France

(MarineLink)

Somali pirates who were found guilty of hijacking the French vessel Le Ponant in 2008 have been sentenced to a total of 24 years imprisonment by a Paris court.
Of the six Somali pirates, who were captured by French forces in a daring raid on land, with a 4x4 vehicle, arms and a part of the ransom, two were acquitted. One was sentenced to serve four years but this was negated by his detention on remand since April, 2008.  All three had protested their innocence.
Two others were sentenced to seven years imprisonment and the remaining pirate, who admitted participating in the whole operation, was told he must serve ten years. It is, as yet, unclear whether the jail terms will be served in France or using the facilities of cooperating jurisdictions in the East African Region.
Commenting on the judgements, Alastair Evitt, Chairman of the shipping industry anti-piracy group SOS SaveOurSeafarers (www.saveourseafarers.com) says; “This is encouraging news. There are about 3,500 criminals active in these pirate gangs. All too often, when they are captured by security forces, confusion over admissible evidence or legal and international diplomatic complexities mean that they are set free to offend again. We applaud these convictions. 
“The international community must demonstrate its resolve to stamp out his serious threat to seafarers and world trade.  That means more and better evidence gathering, more effective policing and jurisprudence in the region, and building more prisons to cope with increasing number of arrests and convictions. Criminals, especially persistent, unscrupulous and violent ones, with a willingness to abuse and, in some cases, murder their victims, should be behind bars.” 
Somali piracy costs billions of pounds a year and causes hostage seafarers untold suffering.  

 

Oman Navy Affirms Counter-Piracy Involvement

MarineLink.Com

During a port visit by EU Naval Force Flag Ship FS MARNE in Salalah (Oman), the EUNAVFOR Force Commander Rear Admiral Dupuis flew to Muscat to meet Omani maritime authorities.

Discussions focused on the current positive developments in counter piracy and their possible reasons (30 attacks in early 2012 compared with 111 for the same period in 2011).

The Omani authorities have reiterated their interest and involvement in the fight against piracy and more generally in monitoring their territorial waters.

The practicalities of everyday communication were also discussed, in order to facilitate the exchanges of information, particularly about ships flying the flag of Oman.

Oman is particularly concerned by the scourge of piracy due to the heavy traffic of dhows carrying goods from Somalia to the port of Salalah. These have sometimes been victims of pirates in Omani waters, leading the Navy and the Coast Guard to carry out increasing controls of commercial traffic from Somalia. Dhows could indeed be used as mother ships to hijack merchant vessels departing from Salalah.

 

Somaliland: An Open Letter To The British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

SomalilandPress

 Rt Hon William Hague MP

Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

King Charles St

London

SW1A 2AH

Dear Foreign Secretary,

I would like to take the opportunity of my imminent arrival in the United Kingdom to set out the views of the Government of Somaliland on the end of the transitional period in Somalia on 20 August, and to foreshadow my Government’s approach to the upcoming talks between Somaliland and the TFG.

Somaliland has a strong interest in seeing stability re-established in our neighbour, Somalia. We therefore welcome the positive developments which have taken place there in recent months, including progress towards bringing the transition period to an end. At the same time, we pay tribute to the sacrifices made by AMISOM troops and to the important support of the international community, which have helped to bring this about.

Three decades after the voluntary union between the former British Protectorate of Somaliland and Italian Somalia in July 1960, Somaliland was driven to reclaim its independence from Somalia in 1991. This decision was not taken lightly. It followed the systematic discrimination and grave human rights abuses committed against our people by the Siyad Barre regime, and the ensuing war which saw the deaths over 50,000 of our citizens, the displacement of hundreds of thousands of others, and the destruction of our capital, Hargeisa.

Since then, Somaliland has been successful in building peace, establishing a democratic form of government and delivering services to its people. We have done this by means of an indigenous, bottom-up process. In 2001, following a referendum which received the overwhelming support of the people of Somaliland, our country adopted a new constitution, which reaffirmed that the national territory of the independent Republic of Somaliland is identical to that of the Somaliland Protectorate, to which Britain granted independence in June 1960. Subsequent elections, which were deemed free and fair by international monitors, have elected governments firmly committed to Somaliland’s independence. We believe that our experience of peace-building may be of interest to others, including our Somali brothers. Given this history, it is unacceptable to Somaliland that the new draft Somalia constitution might purport to lay claim to our country. Somaliland emphatically rejects any such claim on our national territory.

However, Somaliland is more than willing to have constructive discussions with the TFG or its successor about clarifying our future relations, and about matters of mutual interest, including the fight against terrorism, piracy and jihadism. Somaliland is grateful to the United Kingdom, Norway and the European Union for agreeing to co-host the exploratory talks on 21 June. We will approach those discussions in good faith and in a spirit of cooperation with a view to reinforcing and building peace and stability in the Horn.

We ask that the international community now accept the reality that Somaliland is independent, and that promoting a dialogue between two sovereign entities in Hargeisa and Mogadishu will only aid our shared objective of securing a peaceful, stable Horn of Africa.

I would be most grateful to you if you would bring this letter to the attention of His Excellency the Secretary General of the United Nations, as well as to the other Members of the UN Security Council.

Please accept, Foreign Secretary, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Dr Mohamed A. Omar

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

Republic of Somaliland

 Content Editor Web Part

3 aid workers abducted in central Somalia are taken to pirate town

MOGADISHU, Somalia — An aid group says three of its workers have been kidnapped by armed men in central Somalia.The group International Aid Services said one Somalia staffer was shot and critically injured during the Wednesday attack. The group said three Kenyan workers were taken.However, a resident, Mohamed Sheikh Abdi, said Thursday that the gunmen kidnapped two Kenyans and a Somali translator.A government official who said he was not allowed to be quoted by name said the three were being taken to Garaad, a town used by Somali pirates. Somali pirates have increased kidnappings in recent years as a way to win ransom payments.International Aid Services is a Sweden-based aid group that carries out water, food, education and sanitation projects. Source: The Associated Press. Back to Table of Contents

Suspected pirates demand new mattresses in jail

Fourteen suspected Somali pirates being tried for attacking a ship in the Gulf of Oman have made a string of demands including one for new mattresses at Montagne Posée prison where they are being held.Referring to the arsenal they were allegedly caught with as the most deadly he had seen, a court official told Nation the suspects “keep making demands and behave as if they want to disrupt the proceedings, sometimes throwing ad hoc statements at judge Duncan Gaswaga who is hearing the case”. Responding to their request, Mr Gaswaga summoned prisons superintendent Maxime Tirant who submitted a report to the court with pictures he said showed the prisoners have ideal accommodation. Nation recently heard visiting Somali ministers and United Nations officials describe the new block in which convicted and suspected Somali pirates are housed as “very comfortable”, a fact Mr Tirant pointed out in his report. Nation learned that the suspects were complaining of not getting medical attention, but also that they reportedly threw back medicine they were given and demanded lawyers from Somalia.
Mr Tirant said in his report that the suspects get the standard treatment given to all inmates, although upon their arrival the media saw Seychelles topmost – and not ordinary – doctors attending to them. Seychelles’ primary health care is ranked highest in Africa under the United Nations Human Development Index, which ranks Somalia quite low. The suspects are being represented by lawyer Anthony Derjacques – who is the president of the Seychelles Bar Association – at government expense.They had said they want to either represent themselves or be allowed lawyers from Somalia, to which Mr Gaswaga said they were free to do at their own expense but also told them in view of the serious nature of the crimes they are charged with, it is best they accept the high -ranking lawyer they have been offered rather than be unrepresented. Michael Mulkerrins is prosecuting in the case for the 14, who were arrested by European forces patrolling pirate riddled waters. The suspects had earlier argued that Seychelles courts have no power to try them as they were caught near Oman, but Mr Gaswaga referred to an earlier case in which he had ruled that the exclusive economic zone of a country comprises international waters except for the purpose of economic exploitation.
Therefore, given Seychelles’ amended laws, the court has jurisdiction in the case. Source The Nation
Soldiers for the transitional Somali government in Mogadishu have increasingly taken on pirate gangs, as they extend their authority outside of Mogadishu.
By Abdiaziz Abdinuur, MOGADISHU, SOMALIA. Back to Table of Contents

3 aid workers abducted in central Somalia are taken to pirate town

Three Kenyan aid workers have been kidnapped in the central Somali town of Galkayo, and Somali authorities say they have sent soldiers to rescue the aid workers from the pirate-controlled town of Garaad on the Somali coast. Swedish aid agency International Aid Services, which helps Somali communities to developing safe sources of drinking water, functioning sanitation systems, and reliable sources of food, confirmed that three of its workers had been kidnapped near Galkayo by armed men. Said Abdi Farah, the commissioner of Galkayo town says that three armed guards were wounded during a short period of clashes between the kidnappers andPuntland armed officials. A local staff member from International Aid Services was shot and seriously injured, according to local NGO sources in Galkayo. “Security officials told me that the team was travelling between Margaago village and Baadweyn about 45 km from Galkayo,” Mr. Farah said. “Our forces tried to save the aid workers but pirates have used heavy weapons to kill and seize foreigners. We deployed our armed forces around those areas and we will try to rescue the kidnapped workers.”  Khalaf Haji, a resident in Garaad, says that an increase in the movements of pirates with vehicles has been noticed around the village since the abduction of workers. “I don’t know if they are keeping the foreigners here or not,” he said. Armed forces from Puntland, a semi-autonomous region along the northern coast of Somalia, have been sent out of Galkayo to rescue IAS workers. “We believe that pirates are not far from here and we will seize the aid workers soon,” Jama Mohamed Ahmed, Mudug police commander told the Monitor. Kidnappings remain a crucial source of income for pirate gangs in Somalia, a country that has had no effective government since 1991. Like the gangs who take to the seas to capture commercial freighters and their crews, pirate gangs in central Somalia and in the Puntland region hold their victims for ransom, conducting negotiations through third-party mediators both inside Somalia and in the Somali diaspora living in the West. Ransom negotiations can be lengthy, lasting anywhere from just a few days to more than a year. The Chandlers, a retired British couple captured aboard their yacht near the Seychelles Islands in 2009 were eventually released in Nov. 2010. Soldiers for the transitional Somali government in Mogadishu have increasingly taken on pirate gangs, as they extend their authority outside of Mogadishu, and together with allied forces of theAfrican Union, Britain, and the United States, Somalis have begun to launch rescue operations to release those who are kidnapped. Just last week, four foreign aid workers for the Norwegian Refugee Committee were successfully rescued in a combined operation by Somali and Kenyan armed forces, near the town of Afmadow.
Two Spaniards, kidnapped from the Doctors Without Borders facility at Kenya’s Dadaab refugee complexalong the Somali border, were kidnapped in October 2011, and remain in captivity. While there is no direct relationship between pirate gangs and the anti-government Islamist fighters calledAl-Shabab, the growing confidence of the Somali government and its recent battlefield successes in dislodging Shabab fighters in south central Somalia affects criminals and Islamists alike. It is the lack of any real governing authority that has allowed both Islamists and pirates to thrive in Somalia, and any return of governance is a threat to both. There are signs that Shabab, in addition to losing territory to the Somali government, has begun to lose some of their fighters due to defections. According to two recent Shabab defectors, interviewed by Associated Press, Shabab’s loss of control over market traders in Mogadishu and other “tax” revenues have taken a heavy financial toll on the organization. Many Shabab fighters receive only one meal per day, the defectors told AP.A spokesman for IAS called for the three aid workers’ release. “The team was travelling in two vehicles including an escort car with three armed Puntland Police Officers who were overpowered by the attackers,” IAS Executive Director Leif Zetterlund said in a statement, quoted by China’s state-owned Xinhua news agency. “One local staff was shot and critically injured and three Kenyan expatriates were kidnapped and taken to an unknown destination.” Source maritimesecurity.asia. By Ramola Talwar Badam, The National Back to Table of Contents

Somali judges learn to prosecute pirates

A group of 31 Somali judges and prosecutors will travel to the UAE in October for training in holding piracy trials. The workshops are part of a UAE-French initiative to equip the Somali judicial system to try its own piracy cases, rather than relying on other nations to prosecute them. “We are working with the UAE to train judges, prosecutors and clerks to set up a strong framework for trying cases related to pirates,” said Jocelyne Caballero, special anti-piracy representative from the French ministry of foreign and European affairs. “We want to support Somalia to prosecute pirates on their own. Being judged by their own authority will have much more effect than prosecutions abroad.”The first group to undergo two judicial training sessions will be chosen from Somalia and the semiautonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland. “The curriculum and the programme will be taught in the UAE,” said Ms Caballero. An official from the UAE’s international security department confirmed the plans and said it would also look at training some Somali legal authorities to instruct others at home. “The training will also be for law teachers,” the source said. “We are still working on details.” Somali piracy cost governments and the shipping industry more than Dh25 billion last year, the advocacy group One Earth Future Foundation says. More than 200 sailors are being held hostage by Somali pirates, and 62 have lost their lives to pirates since 2007.
The secretary general of the United Nations issued a report in January suggesting Somaliland and Puntland could be suitable locations to prosecute pirates. At the time, concerns were raised about whether the structure was in place for fair trials. Neighbouring countries including Kenya, Tanzania and the Seychelles have successfully prosecuted pirates, handing down sentences of between 10 years and life in prison. Kenya has the highest number of pirates in prison, the foundation says. Of the more than 750 in jail worldwide, 140 are in Kenya. “Trying the pirates in Somalia is critical,” said Theodore Karasik, the director of research and development at the international security consultancy Inegma. “The steps being taken in Kenya and Tanzania are important first steps, but the system has to be created in Somalia.” The Kenyan ambassador to the UAE Mohamed Gello said prosecuting pirates in neighbouring countries such as his was also a strain on resources. “Any move that will help the Somali judicial system effectively deal with pirates is welcome,” Mr Gello said. “This sends the right signals that law and order is slowly being restored, along with the administration of justice. “It is crucial to build confidence in the judicial system and for the pirates to be dealt with in their own country.” In the UAE, the Federal Criminal Court sentenced 10 Somali pirates to life imprisonment in May. They were captured last year by UAE special forces and the US Fifth Fleet after they tried to hijack the UAE bulk oil carrier MV Arrilah-I. The UAE’s stance on battling piracy has long been underpinned by a belief that capturing pirates is only a first step, one that must be backed by programmes to strengthen local communities and bring stability to the area. This was highlighted at the international counter-piracy conference in Dubai last week, co-hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Experts and diplomats there said the UAE’s efforts to bolster Somalia’s legal system were in line with the long-held policy that regionally led action plans were the best solution. Source: The National Back to Table of Contents

Landmark Somali Pirate Trial Climaxes As Task Force Commander Gives Evidence

A dramatic turning point took place in the Rebibbia courtroom bunker during the third hearing of the trial against the alleged Somali pirates last week. Gerry Northwood, commander of HMS [RFA] Fort Victoria, recognized one of the men behind bars. Ahmed Mohammed Ali is the only one of the seven Somalis attending the trial in a separate "cage".
"I am reasonably sure that the person we thought was the leader of the group of Somalis held on board the Italian ship Montecristo and on board the fishing boat Al Hasib is the person portrayed in picture number 7." Commander Northwood spoke for over an hour and a half and also answered to questions by public prosecutor Francesco Scavo and defendant lawyer Douglas Duale. His testimony is one of the most important of the entire trial, because it was a Royal Marines boarding team sent from HMS [RFA] Fort Victoria that boarded the Montecristo on October 11, 2011, roughly 24 hours after a group of Somali pirates managed to climb on the vessel, 200 miles off the eastern coast of Somalia, in the Indian Ocean. The Italian ship, where 22 crew members were holding out in the sealed off "citadel" to prevent the pirates from taking control of the vessel, was first contacted by the helicopter from a Royal Navy frigate, HMS Somerset, which was on patrol under the flag of the NATO anti-piracy mission Ocean Shiel. The Northwood testimony is precise: facts, dates, evidence to recall the sequence of events which brought those persons behind the bars thousands of miles from their homeland: "I went on board the Montecristo myself after the Royal Marines freed the crew and put the Somalis under escort in an area on the front side of the vessel- Northwood recalls - I was able to check out the extensive damage caused by the pirates, particularly two Rpgs that hit the main deck, one of them still visible in the back of the deck itself. I could also see the damage caused by a fire, which I assume was set trying to swell the door of the citadel where the crew took refuge. Cabins and other areas of the ship were also clearly damaged." From those elements, Northwood concludes that the pirates were "particularly aggressive" in their attempt to gain control of the ship. After the crew was freed and those pirates held, HMS [RFA] Fort Victoria waited for the Italian warship Andrea Doria and handed over the Montecristo as it was. Then the British warship set off to find the mother ship from where "we were sure the skiffs (the speedboats used by pirates) to board cargos were released." That ship was found a few days later: it was a fishing boat, a how, with a 20 something Pakistani crew held hostage by four armed Somalis. Among them, Ahmed Mohammed Ali, according to Northwood recognition. "We saw two skiffs on board of the Dhow - Northwood says - one was loaded on the deck and another one was following the Dhow, tied by a rope." The Dhow, which lately was identified as the Pakistani fishing boat Al Hasib, did not stop when warning shots were fired. Again, Captain Rod Yap called the Royal Marines to board the ship. "Somalis surrendered immediately" Northwood said, "we asked permission from NATO command and UK authorities to hand them over to Italian navy and to set the Dhow on his course." So it happened, and according to lawyer Douglas Duale, this is a very sensitive point. Duale asked the court to have a copy of the "permission" granted to captain Northwood but the court rejected the request. After the hearing ended, Duale commented, "If they were held by British military, there should have been extradition orders rather than a simple military dispatch." The testimony given by Captain Northwood satisfied Francesco Scavo, the public prosecutor. He thinks that facts are clear enough at this stage of the trial, but further elements are expected in the coming hearings, the next one set for July 11. Meanwhile, in a separate trial on the same issue on June 16, the Juvenile Court in Rome sentenced four other underage Somalis to eight years of prison. The judges did not accept the prosecutor request to recognize them guilty of terrorism, but accepted the charge of attempted hijacking of the crew of the Montecristo with the purpose of taking ransom, as it has happened already with several Italian commercial vessels crews.
Next in the line of witnesses is Rod Yap, the commander of the Royal Marines boarding team who first reached the Montecristo and some of the crew members, plus the military personnel of a US warship whose helicopters intercepted the Montecristo before leaving the scene to UK warships. The trial will last through the summer and is to come to an end possibly before the end of the year. If a guilty sentence will be given, it will be the first of its kind in Italian judicial history and a landmark case for jurisdiction issues in the global fight against piracy on high seas. Source: OCEANUSLive.org. Back to Table of Contents

UAE aiding the fight against pirates

The Dh55 million, 30,000 square -metre base comes complete with sophisticated coastal radar surveillance systems and a helipad, and took just a year to build.
It was the Emirates' gift to a nation which has struggled with a growing Somali pirates problem. The UAE's funds also purchased five patrol ships, doubling Seychelles' fleet.
"We are a small country with limited resources," said Dick Esparon, the ambassador of Seychelles to the UAE. "We appreciate our brother helping us to tackle the scourge of piracy." The Republic of Seychelles, a 115-island archipelago north-east of Madagascar in the western Indian Ocean, whose economy is primarily driven by tourism and fishing, has been particularly hard hit by piracy in the region. All maritime tourism activities - including cruise ships and catamaran rentals - are restricted to the inner islands because of the risk of piracy. The resulting added costs of freight and insurance have caused the prices of imported food and fuel to skyrocket. Seychelles officials estimate the country lost €8m (Dh37m) in tourism revenue and €4.1m from fisheries in 2008 and 2009 because of piracy.
Joel Morgan, the nation's minister of home affairs, environment, transport and energy, and the chairman of the high level committee on piracy, said Seychelles has failed to capitalise on economic opportunities because of the threat of piracy. "The cost of the defensive measures Seychelles has had to take are more than US$5m per year - money that could have been used to further invest in education, health and social development," Mr Morgan said in London in February. In 2009, when attacks in Seychelles sea territory began to escalate, 10 vessels were hijacked and 10 Seychellois were captured. Since 2010, four fishing boats have been hijacked, with three rescued by military intervention.
Mr Esparon said the new Coast Guard base's cutting-edge technology would allow Seychelles to closely monitor the traffic in its waters and more easily respond to calls for assistance. "We will be able to give valuable information to the ships passing through our waters," the ambassador said. "This is critical, because, most of the time, hijacking happens because of a lack of information-sharing. "Seychelles would like to position itself as the hub in terms of gathering and disseminating information dealing with piracy in the Indian Ocean."
Mr Esparon said it was premature to discuss future collaborations with the UAE, which has had strong diplomatic relations with his country since 1984. The two nations are teaming up on training of military personnel and efforts on the ground in Somalia to attack the root causes of piracy. "Be assured that we have a concrete and elaborate plan in terms of how to deal with piracy - we know we have to be better prepared than they are," he said.
The base is just one example of the extensive foreign aid and other support the UAE has heaped upon Seychelles. In 2010, the UAE gave Dh64.1m to the republic, the 10th largest recipient of foreign aid funds that year. Nearly all was in the form of a government grant for general budget support. Another Dh33.1m was given to Seychelles for infrastructure development by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development. The Khalifa Foundation also donated Dh60,000 for charitable purposes in 2010. Seychelles and the UAE share an extraordinarily close bond. Seychelles has only eight embassies in the world, and one of them is in Abu Dhabi.
Sheikh Khalifa, the President of the UAE, has recently completed a seven-storey palace on Seychelles' largest island, Mahe. Source: The National
Come out with strategies to deal with maritime piracy - GMA boss
12 July 2012. Back to Table of Contents

Come out with strategies to deal with maritime piracy - Ghana MA boss

Stakeholders in the maritime industry were on Tuesday tasked to come out with strategies and a roadmap that would effectively curb the scourge of maritime piracy and insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea. Mr Peter Issaka Azuma, Director General of Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), noted that piracy was becoming the criminal growth of the 21st century and a multi-million dollar criminal enterprise that had the tendency to grow into perpetuity.
According to him, pirates now made use of sophisticated technology and were able to adapt operational and tactical patterns and procedures faster than many navies and coast guards.
Mr Azuma was speaking at the opening of a two-day conference on combating piracy in West Africa. Maritime Piracy, an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea, has now become a global threat causing lot of international concerns among states. The conference, jointly held by Hanson Wade and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), would look at issues pertaining to identifying the nature and extent of piracy and maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea, and maritime security operation in West Africa. The participants, mainly ship owners and security experts, would also delve into exploring the success of counter-piracy forces and analyze how pirates operations were intercepted and disrupted and how complex maritime threats could be tackled. The Director General mentioned that from 2006 over 500 to 2000 seafarers had been taken hostage adding that the total cost of those activities to the global economy was estimated at 12 billion dollars. According to him, despite the world wide awareness of maritime piracy at national, regional and international level to stem it, the situation was becoming worse in West Africa. He mentioned the lack of economic opportunities and bright futures and livelihood for the youth, lack of governance, peace and political instability as some of the factors accounting for the menace. Mr Azuma further mentioned other factors as ineffective boarder controls, illegal migrants from troubled spots, maritime boundary disputes and lack of comprehensive strategy at the national and regional levels to address the problem. He said Ghana has therefore clothed itself with the requisite legislative and administrative infrastructure to handle matters of maritime safety and security.
Alhaji Collins Dauda, Minister of Transport, recounted the number of acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships worldwide in 2011. He said 544 cases were reported in 2011 as against 489 cases in the previous year saying that represented an increase of 11.3 per cent.
Alhaji Dauda noted that most areas affected by maritime piracy were East Africa, Far East, South China Sea, the Indian Ocean, South America, the Caribbean and West Africa.
“The number of incident reported for West Africa increased from 47 as reported in 2010 to 61 in 2011. Most incidents which occurred this year took place in Abidjan and Democratic Republic of Congo.” The Minister said the United Nations Security Council had expressed deep concerns over maritime insecurity in the region and it had therefore condemned the act. In the case of Ghana, Alhaji Dauda said government had taken steps to curb the situation. These include the passage into law of the Ghana Maritime (Protection of Offshore Operations and Assets) Regulations. Alhaji Dauda said the Ghana Navy in collaboration with the GMA undertook patrols to deter, interdict, arrest and detain law breakers.
He said the GMA was in an advance state of implementing the Vessel Traffic Management Information Systems.
This, he said, was an integrated electronic surveillance system intended to enhance the country’s maritime domain awareness for the purpose of combating piracy and armed robbery within Ghana’s maritime jurisdiction. He pledged Ghana’s commitment to align herself with international and multinational bodies to fight unlawful acts at sea.
Source: Ghana News Agency Back to Table of Contents