No amnesty for piracy kingpins

Somali President vows no amnesty for piracy kingpins РSomali President Sheikh Hassan Mohamud, said Tuesday his government’s efforts to pardon some 900 Somali youth engaged in piracy would not be extended to the piracy kingpins.

Addressing foreign journalists visiting the Horn of Africa nation in the wake of recent security improvements that have been witnessed in the capital, the Somali President said talks with local community elders were fruitful in trying to rescue the youth who were forced into piracy by circumstances.

“We decided to engage the forces. They have proved to be fruitful. The community leaders have been able to bring us six people who were kidnapped for more than three years,” President Mohamud said.

The President said the plan to provide grant amnesty to the youth is based on the fact that most of those engaged in international piracy off Somali coast were local fishermen who were originally forced into piracy after sea patrols were enhanced, stopping them from venturing into fishing at sea.

“We are not ready to provide amnesty to leaders of piracy. There are 900 youth who are now ready to go to rehabilitation. We hope the situation would be improving,” the President said.

He said the International Police (Interpol) was also involved in the investigations into the piracy issue.

The investigations led to the temporary delay in the amnesty for the piracy suspects.

The Somali leader said it should have been understood that after more than 22 years of no services being offered to the Somali population, several Somali children were left with no education and no means of survival, which have led them to acts such as piracy.

“There are two aspects to piracy in Somalia. Only 25% of the children go to school because their parents cannot afford to pay the US$10 fees. It means 75% of the children are playing on the streets. This has been like this for 22 years. The boy has now become a man, has a wife, very hopeless and confused,” the Somali leader said, explaining his government’s dilemma over the little choices it has on dealing with the issue.

He said since most fishermen were unable to go to sea due to the effects of pirates, who robbed them of boats and because those armed with guns to guard against pirates were rounded off as piracy suspects, more people were forced into the piracy business against their intentions.

In one of the most detailed assessments of the international and regional costs of Somali piracy, the World Bank says because of its scale, geographic scope, and violence that have created considerable public anxiety throughout the world, piracy costs the global economy roughly US$ 18 billion a year.

This is due to the increased trade costs – an amount that dwarfs the estimated US$ 53 million average annual ransom paid since 2005.

Somalia itself has also suffered considerably from the impact of piracy. Increased trade costs are estimated to cost the country US$ 6 million annually; and this figure does not take into account that Somalia cannot develop and expand its maritime trade and fisheries as long as pirates are allowed to operate in its waters, the Bank said in a report last week.

Pana 17/04/2013


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