UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson [official profile] on Monday stressed the need to address the causes of maritime piracy [statement] with a "multi-dimensional approach" [press release]. Addressing the UN Security Council, Eliasson noted three areas of concern that warrant immediate action: 1) better coordination, information-sharing and trust-building among countries and agencies involved in counter-piracy operations; 2) stronger capacity to prosecute piracy cases and imprison those convicted in accordance with international human rights standards; and 3) the establishment of a framework governing the use of privately contracted armed security personnel on board vessels. According to the International Maritime Organization [official website], there were 291 attacks against ships in the first 10 months of 2012, and pirates are still holding 293 seafarers hostage. This marks the first time the UN Security Council has debated the issue of maritime piracy.
Last month the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court of Hamburg issued sentences [JURIST report] for 10 Somalis who were involved in the hijacking the German freighter MS Taipan off the coast of Somalia two years ago. Also in October an appeals court in Kenya concluded that Kenyan courts have jurisdiction [JURIST report] to try international piracy suspects. In July the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau (IMB) [official website] reported that the number of global pirate attacks fell sharply [JURIST report] in the first half of 2012, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre [official website] having received reports [materials] of 177 incidents in the first six months of this year, compared to 266 incidents for the same period in 2011. In May a United Arab Emirates court sentenced 10 Somali pirates [JURIST report] to 25 years in prison. Also that month six accused Somali pirates went on trial [JURIST report] in a Paris court in connection with the 2008 hijacking of the cruise ship Le Ponant in the Gulf of Aden.The US government in March handed over [JURIST report] 15 suspected Somali pirates it captured in January to the Republic of Seychelles for prosecution. Last year the UN Security Council adopted a resolution encouraging states to criminalize and punish piracy after maritime piracy hit an all time high [JURIST report] in 2010. The UN has also donated $9.3 million to fund piracy courts [JURIST report] in Kenya and the Seychelles, the only two nations with such unique judicial bodies.