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UN expert calls for international maritime piracy court

The UN Secretary-General's special adviser on maritime piracy [JURIST news archive] Jack Lang [official profile] warned Security Council members on Monday that more needs to be done to bring Somali pirates [JURIST news archive] to justice, proposing an international piracy court. In his report, set to undergo debate [AFP report] in the UN Security Council Tuesday, Lang encouraged members to take steps and allocate resources to reduce piracy levels through the implementation of tougher security measures, as well as the establishment of an international tribunal. The report cited the increase in Somali pirate attacks and the associated costs, estimated at more than $7 billion a year, as the strongest justifications for a new approach to the problem. While warships from numerous countries already patrol shipping lanes near Somalia, Lang called for closer patrol covering areas known to be hideouts as a part of his plan to increase security against attacks. Lang also suggested the creation of a court which would be located in a foreign country but remain under Somali jurisdiction to assist in prosecuting cases of alleged piracy, a responsibility which has overwhelmed certain countries [JURIST report] in the past. However, in a move being applauded and viewed as a step forward in deterring piracy, both Malaysia and South Korea plan to prosecute [AP report] 12 Somali pirates captured in two separate raids last Friday.

Other nations have also provided deterrents to Somali piracy through capture and prosecution. In November, the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court of Hamburg [official website, in German] commenced [JURIST report] Germany's first piracy trial in 400 years against 10 accused Somali pirates. The suspects were charged with hijacking a ship registered in Hamburg off the Horn of Africa and face maximum sentences of between 10 and 15 years in prison. The accused were arrested by the Dutch navy hours after they took over the "Taipan" on April 5. Also in November, the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website] began the first US piracy trial [JURIST report] in more than 100 years.

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