News Blogmaritime piracy

700 pirates freed in the first half. Latest assessment… official

photo credit: EUNAVFOR

(BRUSSELS2) We now have an official figure for pirate arrests and their prosecution. A figure which corresponds – more or less to the balance sheet that I had published (our methods are different). But, above all, we have a figure of suspects of acts of piracy, apprehended and then released. The causes are multiple but they can be summed up in a few words: lack of evidence (notably no flagrante delicto), no host country, operational difficulty (removal).

In the first half of 2010, the commanders of the European and NATO naval forces off the coast of Somalia had to release around 700 suspects whom they had previously apprehended. A figure – quoted in a report by Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General – to be compared to just over 100 suspects who have been brought to justice. This makes a court appearance ratio of around 13% (one in six). It is very little.

Since the start of naval operations, prosecutions for acts of piracy are underway in 10 States: Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia (in the regions of Somaliland and Puntland), Maldives, Yemen, Netherlands, United States, France , Spain and Germany. Prosecutions in regional states follow the arrest and transfer of alleged perpetrators by naval patrolling states or their arrest by law enforcement and military forces of the prosecuting state. There are thus 528 suspects who have been entrusted to the justice of a coastal State.

Number of suspects prosecuted
in the states bordering the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden

(source: UN – until May 2010)

Country Following the arrest by States organizing naval patrols Following arrest by receiving States Total
Kenya 123 0 123
Somalia (Somaliland) 20 80 100
Somalia (Puntland) 60 148 208
Seychelles 11 20 31
Yemen Number unknown but some actions reported Number unknown 60 (estimate)
Total 528

Kenya and Seychelles Prosecution Details

In Kenya, 14 proceedings have been initiated against 123 suspects since 2006. Nine of these relate to suspects transferred from the European Union, 3 to suspects transferred from the United States and 2 to suspects transferred from the United Kingdom. Two procedures have been completed: 10 pirates transferred by the United States were each sentenced to eight years in prison and 8 pirates transferred by the United Kingdom were each sentenced to 20 years in prison. The new high security court, opened on June 24, 2010 in Shimo La Tewa, Mombasa and built by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's Counter-Piracy Program is expected to facilitate the processing of piracy suspects in Kenya.

In the Seychelles, three prosecutions have been initiated since January 2010; one concerns suspects transferred by the European Union and the other two suspects arrested by the Seychelles. Legal proceedings have been initiated in all three cases.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

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).