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Pirate lawsuit stalls

(BRUSSELS2) What had made the very mark of the European anti-piracy operation EUNAVFOR Atalanta: the prosecution of pirates. This seems to be marking time. The release of the suspects by the German frigate Brandenburg, on September 15, shows it. Like end of August, suspects released by the Norwegians.

Several reasons for this

First of all, the lack of enthusiasm or available places in the states of the region. In Kenya, evacuation has become more difficult recently. Kenyan prisons seem full and Kenyans are reluctant to accept new prisoners. The current legal proceedings are not going as well as expected. With Tanzania, the agreement glimpsed at one point seems frozen for the moment. As for the agreement with the Seychelles, if European specialists get their hands on an agreement for the transfer of suspects (and also for the protection of troops (SOFA) for the installation of a (small) air and/or maritime logistics base ), you shouldn't expect much. According to several experts, the Indian Ocean archipelago will not really be able to accept many prisoners. And the question of “distance” will always arise. This is also the second motivation for this development.

An operational reason: distance. A transfer to Kenya or another country means a return to port for a frigate, so a
operational loss of more than ten days. Liberation is then the lesser evil...

Finally, come legal grounds. Several suspects appear to have been released because the evidence was “borderline”, too weak.
In order to remedy this state of affairs, at least two States – Spain with a project presented in November 2008 and France with a project dating from September 2009 – seem to have decided to return to the solution of “repatriation” of pirates in Europe. Solution envisaged at the start of the operation and then abandoned under the weight of legal difficulties. It is necessary, in fact, to have in national law a sufficiently solid incrimination to encompass all hypotheses, a universal jurisdiction in fact in matters of piracy (as permitted by international conventions on the law of the sea), a delegation to an authority for the arrest and a competent court and an adequate procedure in accordance with both national and European standards (in particular the European Court of Human Rights: translation before a judge within a short period of time, rights of defense, etc.).

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).