UN Security Council reiterates condemnation of Somali piracy

14:32, December 01, 2009      

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The UN Security Council on Monday reiterated its condemnation of all acts of piracy and armed robbery in the waters off the coast of Somalia.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1897, the 15-member body also expressed concern reports of piracy growth fueled by "escalating ransom payments and the lack of enforcement of the arms embargo."

The council again called on states and regional organizations that "have the capacity to do so, to take part in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia," including by sending their naval vessels.

It urged all states and regional organizations fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia to conclude special agreements or arrangements with countries willing to take custody of pirates.

With the consent of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), such agreements would allow law enforcement officials to act as "ship riders" to carry out the investigation and prosecution of persons detained, according to the resolution.

The council called on all states to cooperate in determining jurisdiction, and in the investigation and prosecution of persons responsible for acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia.

Through the resolution, the council also renewed the authorization granted to sates and regional organizations cooperating with the TFG in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, calling for their continued cooperation in this regard.

The Monitoring Group on Somalia, which was established by the Security Council, has reported that "exorbitant ransom payments have fueled the growth of (piracy and armed groups) ... including the procurement of arms and equipment and the maintenance of militia establishments in violation of the arms embargo."

"The high rewards for piracy -- ransom payments are often in the millions of dollars -- and the lack of accountability have also contributed to its rapid growth," said the monitoring mission.

"In sum, it has become a low-risk activity with high returns," the group said. "Unless international action is able to reverse the cost-benefit ratio that drives the piracy phenomenon, it is likely to remain a scourge to international shipping in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean and to peace and security in Somalia."

In a report to the Security Council on the situation of piracy and armed robbery in territorial waters and high seas off the coast of Somalia, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that the expanding maritime presence by member states is playing a critical role in stabilizing the situation in the Gulf of Aden.

At the same time, Ban called for an integrated approach that would strengthen the capacities of the TFG and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on land.

The approach should include further development of law and security institutions to complement the ongoing peace process in the strife-torn nation, including for the investigation and prosecution of those suspected of acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea.

Somali pirates have seized dozens of ships over the last two years, taking in tens of millions of dollars in ransom money. The pirates are believed to be holding seven ships in all.

The Somali pirates who come from specific regions and clans, far away from the war-ravaged capital have thwarted efforts by the coalition of warships patrolling the world's most dangerous waters to end the menace.

An estimated 25,000 ships annually cruise the Gulf of Aden, off Somalia's northern coast. Over 10 ships and 200 crew members are still held by Somali pirates.

The Gulf of Aden, off the northern coast of Somalia, has the highest risk of piracy in the world. About 25,000 ships use the channel south of Yemen, between the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea.

Source: Xinhua
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