Naval patrols off Somalia’s coast have increasingly disrupted the activities of pirates, with many sea bandits arrested and prosecuted, but others have continued to seize ships using increasingly violent methods, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in a new report.
“The trend of the increased levels of violence employed by the pirates as well as their expanding reach is disconcerting,” Mr. Ban says in his latest report to the Security Council on piracy and armed robbery off Somalia’s Indian Ocean coast.
“I appeal to all ships traversing the high seas off the coast of Somalia to follow IMO [International Maritime Organization] recommendations and industry-developed best management practices, which have proved to significantly reduce the risk of being hijacked,” he says.
In the report, he welcomes steps taken to prosecute suspected pirates and imprison convicted offenders, expressing particular appreciation of efforts by Kenya and Seychelles in that regard, as well as to a number of UN Member States that have provided resources for the trial and incarceration of convicted pirates.
He stresses, however, that much more needs to be done, including improvements in the collection of evidence and other investigative activities following arrests at sea, as well as finding long-term legal solutions to the scourge.
UN Member States, the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the European Police Office (Europol) are working together to expose international criminal networks that profit from acts of piracy off the Somali coast, Mr. Ban writes.
“We need to know more about whether there are any connections to the financing of militias or insurgent groups in Somalia or elsewhere. Also, little is known about the impact of piracy on women, especially those living in areas where the criminals operate,” the Secretary-General says.
He observes that piracy has had an immense impact on the economies of East Africa and other regions of the world, with international trade routes threatened and prices of goods rising as a result.
He applauds efforts by Member States to coordinate international and bilateral response to piracy, both at the military and political levels, but stresses that sustainable resolution of the problem will only come when Somalia itself is stabilized.
“There is an urgent need to combine the vital sea-based and judicial counter-piracy initiatives described in the present report with the search for a solution for Somalia as a whole, in support of the Djibouti Peace Agreement,” Mr. Ban says.
He underlines the importance of Member States providing funding and resources directly to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), as these funds and resources would help build the Government’s capacity to maintain law and order..
The Secretary-General also expresses concern over the fate of the hundreds of seafarers held captive by pirates.
“Their continued captivity, in some cases in confinement for extended periods, is unacceptable,” Mr. Ban writes, urging the TFG and regional administrations in the country to do their best to bring the maritime kidnapping for ransom to an end.