[JURIST] The International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau (IMB) [official website] on Monday reported that the number of global pirate attacks fell sharply [press release] in the first half of 2012. The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre [official website] (PRC) received reports [materials] of 177 incidents in the first six months of this year, compared to 266 incidents for the same period in 2011. So far in 2012, 20 vessels were actually hijacked with 334 crew members taken hostage, and 80 vessels were boarded, 25 vessels were fired upon and 52 vessels reported attempted pirate attacks. Contributing to the piracy decrease [The Maritime Executive report] is the effective deployment of Best Management Practices, ship hardening and, in particular, the increased use of Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel (PCASP). The IMB PRC operates 24 hours a day to disseminate reports of piracy attacks across the globe:
[The IMB] is an independent body set up to monitor these attacks free of political interference. IMB strongly urges all shipmasters and owners to report all actual, attempted and suspicious piracy and armed robbery incidents to the IMB PRC. This is an essential first step in the response chain. The statistics and reports of the IMB PRC act as a catalyst to encourage firm response by government and law enforcement.
The IMB attributes the drop in overall piracy primarily to a decline in incidents of Somali pirate activity, down from 163 last year to 69 in 2012. The IMB credits the pre-emptive and disruptive counter piracy tactics employed by the international navies in stifling the Somali pirate activity.
In May the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] ruled that the legal definition of maritime piracy [JURIST news archive] includes an armed attack to hijack a ship, even if the attempt is unsuccessful. Earlier that week a United Arab Emirates court sentenced 10 Somali pirates [JURIST report] to 25 years in prison. Also that week six accused Somali pirates went on trial [JURIST report] in a Paris court for taking 30 crew members hostage in 2008 on a ship in the Gulf of Aden. The US government in March handed over 15 suspected Somali pirates [JURIST report] it had captured in January to the Republic of Seychelles for prosecution. Italy ordered its first international piracy trial in February against nine Somali pirates, while France began its first international piracy trial [JURIST reports] in November. In October the UN Security Council adopted a resolution encouraging states to criminalize and punish piracy after maritime piracy reached an all-time high [JURIST reports] last year. The UN also donated $9.3 million [JURIST report] in 2010 to fund piracy courts in Seychelles and Kenya, the only two countries that have created such courts