Unclear international legal procedures complicate pirate prosecution

Experts call for more comprehensive approach to tackle apprehended pirates

By Nada AlTaher and Samihah Zaman, Staff Reporters

Abu Dhabi: The prosecution and punishment of naval pirates is still a complicated process due to the lack of a comprehensive international standard on piracy, legal experts said at a symposium in the capital.

However, the Arabian Gulf States have so far pursued firm national policies against the threat, and suspected pirates have been successfully prosecuted in the UAE, Oman and Yemen, said Dr Robin Warner associate professor at the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security.

At present only 47 countries have piracy laws, 10 of which identify piracy as a crime but do not have universal jurisdiction on the matter.

“Nine other countries can prosecute pirates under other offenses. Still, laws governing piracy offences vary from state to state. And for some states, their existing anti-piracy legal regime falls short of establishing a substantial deterrent to this form of criminal activity at sea,” Dr Warner added.

While there has been increasing political will to tackle the issue, several factors still hinder the punishment of apprehended pirates.

“The lack of a central government in Somalia means that pirates apprehended in international waters cannot be handed over to Somali authorities for investigation and prosecution. Although these pirates can be tried under the laws of other states, detaining and transporting them is a considerable burden on governmental resources. As a result of this and other factors, some states adopt a ‘catch and release policy’ where the pirates’ weapons are confiscated and the pirates themselves are released,” Warner explained.

To encounter these issues, UN Resolutions allow authorities to enter Somali territorial waters to confront or apprehend pirates. Similarly, the expert urged UN member countries to set a clear jurisdiction and create domestic laws which criminalise piracy.

“These measures indicate that anti-piracy efforts require a multi-faceted strategy, and more effective prosecutions and severity of sentences will be needed in the future,” she added.

Experts added that security of the Arabian sea is vital as 72 per cent of oil flows though it from the Gulf and Middle East.

Colonel Mahmoud AL Zarooni, a representative of the UAE Naval Forces recommended the creation of a unified Arab strategy to combat piracy in the region.

“We must make efforts to strengthen the coastguard in our countries because the presence of such maritime threats increases the price of insuring and securing vessels. Another efficient approach involves creating an integrated military strategy by establishing a well-trained and equipped ship crew,” Al Zarooni added.

Via: http://gulfnews.com/

Original Article