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April 28, 2010

Security Council suggests international tribunals could try pirates

The U.N.Security Council yesterday put forward the possibility of establishing international tribunals to try pirates.

The 15-member body unanimously adopted a resolution asking all States "to criminalize piracy under their domestic law and favorably consider the prosecution of suspected, and imprisonment of convicted, pirates apprehended off the coast of Somalia, consistent with applicable international human rights law."

The Security Council also requested that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon present a report within three months on possible options for prosecuting and imprisoning suspects in connection with piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Horn of Africa.

In its resolution, members noted efforts by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and other international organization and donors, including the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), "to enhance the capacity of the judicial and the corrections systems in Somalia, Kenya, Seychelles and other States in the region."

They also highlighted the role of the European Union (EU), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and other partners in bringing suspects to justice, in cooperation with Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

Ongoing violence between the TFG, heavily backed by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and other supporters, and rebel groups in Somalia's capital of Mogadishu prevents piracy suspects from being tried or imprisoned there. Some of the burden has shifted to the justice system of neighboring Kenya.

The Security Council acknowledged "difficulties that Kenya encountered, encouraging its Government to continue prosecuting suspects and imprisoning convicted persons."

Yesterday's meeting came just days after B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs and chair of the Board of the Trust Fund to Support Initiatives of States Countering Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, unveiled $2.1 million worth of projects planned to tackle the problem.

The five projects being backed by the UN Trust Fund, which was set up in January by the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, are focused largely on efforts to prosecute piracy suspects.

Four projects will help strengthen institutions in the Seychelles and the autonomous Somali regions of Puntland and Somaliland in such areas as mentoring prosecutors and police, building and renovating prisons, reviewing domestic laws in piracy and increasing the capacity of local courts. A fifth project aims to help local media disseminate anti-piracy messages within Somalia.


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