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The anti-piracy operation, in the dark, on its results

StopPiratesWeaponsEmden@De100319(B2) The anti-piracy operation which has a specific objective of securing a maritime zone has a main defect. If the ministries do not often fail to communicate with a lot of photos when they stop an attack, they are much more discreet when it comes to reporting on the fate of suspected pirates. We understand them…

The lack of evidence, the wound of the lawyer, the lack of jurisdiction, the wound of the soldier

Sometimes the suspect was killed on the spot. This is the case of the Indian navy which apparently made a big mistake since in terms of suspected pirates, it was mainly a fishing boat (1). In the vast majority of cases, they do not experience this tragic fate. Far from there. Most of the time, they are released, either immediately or upon arrival in port by the first judge who comes along. Fault ? The lack of evidence that can be taken into account by a judge, the lack of clear jurisdiction of a national court or an adequate legal instrument (signing with Kenya should solve the problem) and also does (we (I forget a little quickly) that there is no effective State in Somalia.

At least one pirate in two arrested is released immediately

On the Russian side, as American or European, the confusion of genres and discretion are therefore in order. The only assessment that has been drawn up globally and made public was done… by the Americans before the “armed services” committee of Congress (read here). An assessment quite similar to the one I carried out and which leads to a clear observation: at least one pirate in two arrested is released immediately. And, again, we do not mention their future. Thus according to the US Navy: out of 250 pirates apprehended, 121 were disarmed and released, 117 were handed over to the courts for prosecution. But we are careful not to mention their fate after being brought to justice. Have they been judged? Or were they not (as happened in Yemen) subsequently released?

Military operation or police operation? More generally, the treatment of prisoners during these anti-piracy operations, carried out by the various American, Russian, European, Asian naval forces, etc. poses a real practical and legal problem, coupled with an ethical and political problem. Can a rule of law stop those who are, after all, nothing more than highwaymen (a little too gifted ) in an international zone, with military means – even though this method of use would be prohibited in their own country and no war has been started? Wouldn't this also be the role of the police forces usually assigned and trained for this type of action (coast guard for example)?


(1) A "smudge" Indian off Somalia? 

(photo credit: Bundeswehr, weapons seizure on the Emden)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).