|Home | Contact us | Links | Archives | Search|
Issue 498/ 13th - 19th August 2011
Somali Pirates: A Nightmare Without Borders
On Friday, five Somali pirates will be sentenced in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. A further 700 Somalis are either convicted or awaiting trial for charges of piracy in 14 different countries. In the meantime, piracy off the Coast of Somalia is still a highly lucrative trade; gangs often demand millions of dollars in ransom. The fight against this illegal business is fraught with legal and practical challenges.
By Kassim Mohamed
In May earlier this year, Spain’s National Court sentenced two Somali pirates to 439 years each in prison. They were charged for their involvement in the hijacking of Spanish fishing boat off the coast of Somalia in 2009.
Kenya has also sentenced a number of pirates who are serving their sentences in the coastal city of Mombasa. Most of the pirates are handed in by foreign navies patrolling the Somali coastline.
Lawyers say the suspects are kept in detention for a long time before they have access to legal assistance. Many pirates have also had to be released as there were no courts available to sentence them and no prisons ready to accommodate them.
International community fails to step in
“The international community is reluctant to fight piracy in the Indian Ocean. Piracy is affecting our economy in Kenya, particularly the tourist industry. Piracy has caused mayhem by raising the cost of food. Unfortunately the International community with all the power and might has not stopped piracy and it has become a multi-billion dollar economy,” explained Kenya’s Tourism Minister, Najib Balala.
According to a pirate gang that spoke to RNW, investing in employing young men to counter the menace will save NATO and other forces millions of dollars and bring back sanity in the high seas.
“Now that NATO is helping rebels in Libya fight the Gaddafi regime by providing aerial bombardments of what it calls ‘a bid to end the bloodshed,’ the situation will not be any different. Just employ us [pirates]and we will be great coastguards,” said Abdirahman Osman, a pirate in Puntland.
“We are have many ships off the coast of Somalia but this will not stop pirates. The way to address piracy is stop them from inland; they were not born at sea, they came from land. Unless the insecurity in Somali is solved, piracy will not stop. We are asking the donor community to help us address piracy inland and also address the illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste in our coastline as we have many cases,” lamented Mohamed Alinur Ameriko.
and Somaliland, two semi-autonomous regions of Somalia with their
different structures of government are not much better equipped than
South and Central Somalia in terms of Coast guards.
Source: RNW Africa Desk