By Faustine Kapama
TANZANIA is committed to taking all necessary and acceptable actions to enhance maritime security and work together with regional and international partners to fight piracy.
Speaking for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) at the just-ended judicial exhibition week in Dar es Salaam last week, Senior State Attorney Mohamed Salum told the ‘Daily News’ that fighting maritime piracy was not the undertaking of a single country.
“As a move to foster the Regional and Global progress on the prosecution of pirates, the country developed the National Plan to Combat Maritime Piracy aimed at consolidating national efforts for combating piracy,” he said.
The plan, the trial attorney said, would assist the government to promote Maritime Security through development of the required administrative practices, procedures and acquisition of necessary material, technical and human resources.
In 2002, the government of Tanzania and United Kingdom (UK) signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the transfer of suspected pirates from UK marine forces to Tanzania for prosecution.
Likewise in 2013, Tanzania and the Kingdom of Denmark signed a Transfer Agreement for suspected pirates.
Furthermore, last year, the government signed another agreement with European Union with a view to prosecute the transferred suspected pirates arrested by the Naval Forces operating under the EU mission.
Such pacts contain rights and obligations of transferring and receiving state and the suspects. The trial attorney, who is an expert trained in piracy prosecutions, pointed out, however that, implementation of available plans required financial and human resources for paying interpreters and feed incarcerated pirates.
According to him, resources are also needed for the training of judges, investigators, prosecutors and pay for costs of handling of exhibits so as to maintain a firm chain of their custody.
Currently, there is only one piracy case in Tanzania involving seven Somali nationals Mohamed Nuru Adam, Bashir Yusuph Rooble, Muhsini Shehe Haji, Abdulwaidi Abdalahamani, Faragani Ali Abdul, Ally Nur Ally and Omar Mohamed, alias Mudhee.
They are facing only one count of piracy, contrary to Section 66 (1) (a) (b) of the Penal Code, as amended. Such provision reads, “Any person who does any act of violence or detention or degradation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or aircraft and directed against another ship or aircraft, or persons or property on board, (… ) or in a place outside the jurisdiction of any state. “… participates in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft, or does any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act (stated above) commits an act of piracy.”
The accused persons allegedly committed the offence on October 3, 2011 at latitude 07′ 49′.4″S and latitude 040’14.3E in the Indian Ocean and within Tanzania’s Exclusive Economic Zone. They are alleged to have attacked an oil exploration vessel known as SAM S ALLGOOD by using firearms.
According to the law under which the seven men are charged with, notably Sub- Section (2) of the Act, a person who does or participates in the piracy commits an offence of piracy and on conviction is liable to imprisonment for life.
In October 2011, a Navy Unit of the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) captured the Somali suspects a short distance away from Mafia Island at night.
An oil prospecting vessel was attacked by a group of at least seven ocean suspected terrorists of Somali origin. But when the attack was radioed in, the Tanzanian navy units in the area immediately went into action to intercept the pirates.
Upon closing in on the pirates, a fierce fight reportedly ensued before the navy personnel overpowered them and took them into custody.
The suspects were thereafter interrogated by Tanzanian security forces before being taken to a district court in Kibaha for a preliminary inquiry of their matter.