UN justice office urges more cooperation on  combating piracy

UN justice office urges more cooperation on combating piracy

[JURIST] The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) [official website] on Tuesday called for greater judicial cooperation to combat piracy [press release] off the coast of Somalia. UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa [official profile] said that while pirates should ideally be tried in their home country or in the country that owns the seized ship, this is not always feasible because, "the Somali criminal justice system has collapsed, and countries like Liberia, Panama, and the Marshall Islands – where many of the ships are registered – do not want to deal with crimes committed thousands of miles away." Costa proposed strengthening regional justice systems by helping countries implement the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime [text, PDF] and combating piracy on the land by dismantling pirates' bases and support networks. Costa concluded that, "Piracy is organized crime, and should be confronted as such." Also on Tuesday, the UN Security Council [official website] passed a resolution authorizing states to use land-based operations [press release and text] to combat piracy in Somalia. The measure, pushed by the US [IHT report] won unanimous support.

Last month, eight suspected Somali pirates were charged [JURIST report] in a Kenyan court [Kenya judiciary website] after being turned over to Kenyan officials by the British Royal Navy. In October, the UN Security Council unanimously approved Resolution 1838 [text, PDF; press release], condemning all acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia, and calling on states to "deploy naval vessels and military aircraft to actively fight piracy on the high seas off the coast of Somalia." Although maritime piracy is increasingly widespread, Somalia's coast has been ranked as the most dangerous in the world [BBC report] due to a surge in attacks on ships carrying traded goods or humanitarian aid [NPR report]. Somalia has not had an effective government for 17 years. It was recently ranked as one of the world's most corrupt countries [JURIST report] and its transitional government has only a tenuous hold over the country's capital. In October 2007 the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) [advocacy website], which tracks incidents of maritime piracy worldwide [IMP materials], reported [press release] that incidents of piracy and armed attacks against ships off the Somalian and Nigerian coasts have risen 14% from 2006.