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Somalia parliament rejects anti-piracy legislation

The Somali Parliament [official website] on Tuesday rejected legislation designed to combat piracy [JURIST news archive]. The bill, introduced last week by government officials, seeks to criminalize piracy and improve internal mechanisms for trying alleged offenders. Lawmakers expressed reservations [AFP report] about the bill, including concerns about its necessity and that the proposed sentencing provisions are inconsistent with Islamic teachings. The bill was returned to a committee for amendment within five days.

A federal judge in November sentenced Jama Idle Ibrahim, a Somali citizen, to 30 years in prison after he pleaded guilty [JURIST reports] for his role in an April attach on the USS Ashland in the Gulf of Aden. Ibrahim still faces additional sentencing after pleading guilty [JURIST report] in the District of Columbia to charges relating to a 2008 attack on the M/V CEC Future. A week earlier, a federal jury in Virginia convicted [JURIST report] five Somali men on charges of piracy for their roles in an April attack on the USS Nichols. In August, piracy charges against Ibrahim and five other defendants were dismissed [JURIST report] when federal Judge Raymond Jackson ruled that piracy, as defined by the law of nations, does not include violence or aggression committed on the high seas, and rejected the government's argument for an expanded reading of the statute. Piracy remains an issue of international concern, as few countries have been willing to prosecute suspected pirates. The few that have attempted to do so include Germany, Kenya, Seychelles, the Netherlands, Mauritius, Yemen, Somalia and Spain [JURIST reports].

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