BY JAMES KANDOYA
Tanzania is yet to sign the protocol against piracy endorsed by the other East African and Indian Ocean littoral states, it has been learnt.
Speaking in Dar es Salaam recently, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Bernard Membe clarified that Tanzania has yet to meet the international standards set by the European Union.
The country was urged to sign the protocol some two years ago. Under the protocol each country has to ensure that it has prepared to international standards the environment to facilitate prosecution of cases, accommodation of the prisoners and investigation departments.
Membe said Tanzania‚Äôs lack of experience in investigating and handling pirate cases, a new phenomenon in the Indian Ocean, led to the delay in signing the protocol.
He said Tanzania has been conducting training in order to meet the conditions set by the European Union (EU) to be allowed to prosecute pirate related cases, adding that Tanzania will sign the agreement by May this year.
The minister pointed out those countries which will prosecute pirates must have experts before signing the protocol.
‚ÄúExperience from the Comoros and Seychelles which have handled such cases show that most pirates, especially Somalis tend to use vernacular languages, a situation which requires our country to have special translators,‚Äù Membe explained.
According to Membe prisons used to keep the pirates should meet international standards, including supply of newspapers, free access to information and availability of air condition in their rooms.
But the country‚Äôs prisons do not have the said facilities.
Pirates operating along the coast of East Africa, especially between Somalia and Kenya besides deaths, caused a major disruption to maritime trade, leading to intervention of navies of western powers to clear the sea lanes.