Mauritian Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam [official website] announced Saturday that his country will begin to try and imprison suspected pirates [JURIST news archive]. Ramgoolam, who announced the policy after meeting with EU security officials, said that Mauritius had to act to protect its interests in fishing and tourism. Mauritius joins three [Reuters report] of the region's nations - Kenya, Tanzania and Seychelles - in its asserted willingness to take legal action. Jurisdictional complications and unrest in Somalia [CFR backgrounder] have made the prosecution of pirates a legal and political ordeal in which few nations have been willing to engage. The African island nation faces the mounting threat of piracy by Somali pirates, making the western edge of the Indian Ocean increasingly hazardous to commercial shipping. At the Africa-France Summit [official website] in May, Ramgoolam emphasized the significance of the piracy problem, calling it an impediment to development [allAfrica report]. The effects of piracy are estimated to cost USD $250 million per year.
Piracy remains an issue of international concern. In May, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) [official website] announced that Seychelles would create a UN-supported center [JURIST report] to prosecute suspected pirates. Also in May, the executive director of the UNODC opened a conference on international crime by warning [JURIST report] about the inadequacies of the current international system in dealing with crimes like piracy. In April, the UN Security Council [official website] unanimously approved [JURIST report] a resolution calling on member states to criminalize piracy under their domestic laws and urging Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] to consider an international tribunal for prosecuting piracy. The resolution [text] came the same week that the UN announced the establishment of a trust fund to finance five projects [UN News Centre report] aimed at combating piracy in the West Indian Ocean.