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Atalanta's mandate brought into line with judicial practice

The decision to renew the European anti-piracy mission Atalanta has already been made (1). And the extension of its area of ​​action is already in force (2). The new period which is opening should be accompanied by an additional modification: a slight extension, or rather rectification of its mandate, in particular to allow it to work better in matters of police and justice. Decision taken by the ministers of the 27 at the Council of Ministers of the Economy and Finance, on December 7. It can be noted that, in most cases, Eunavfor forces have, in fact, already extended their mandate. This is about compliance. rather than a new mandate in itself.

Warrant extended to search for pirates intending to commit an act

Thus in Atalanta's mandate, it is now specified that European forces can “with a view to the possible exercise of legal proceedings by the competent States (…) apprehend, detain and transfer persons suspected of having the intention (within the meaning of Articles 101 and 103 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), commit, principal or having committed acts of piracy or armed robbery in areas where it is present and seize ships of pirates or armed robbers or ships captured following an act of piracy or armed robbery and which are in the hands of pirates as well as the goods on board;”. What is new is the possibility of arresting simple suspects intending to commit as well as acting in flagrante delicto. Until now it only had a warrant to be able to arrest... “people who have committed or suspected of having committed”.

An identical amendment is made to section 12 to permit the transfer of persons who intend to commit an act.

Warrant extended to search for pirates intending to commit an act

Atlanta's mandate includes two new points:

• The collection of biometric data: the “collects, in accordance with applicable law, data concerning (suspects) relating to characteristics likely to facilitate their identification, in particular fingerprints » (a more than necessary compliance for legal procedures, a prosecution having been possible thanks to these fingerprints (3)).
• The transmission of personal data to Interpol: “ for the purpose of their dissemination through the channels of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and their verification against the latter's databases, (Atransmet forces to the INTERPOL National Central Bureau located in the Member State where the operation headquarters is based, according to arrangements to be concluded between the operation commander and the head of the INTERPOL National Central Bureau, the following data:
– personal data concerning the persons referred to in point (e) relating to characteristics likely to facilitate their identification, in particular fingerprints, as well as the following information, to the exclusion of other personal data: names , maiden name, first names and any pseudonym or assumed name; date and place of birth as well as nationality; the gender, place of residence, occupation and location of the person concerned; driving licenses, identity documents and passport data. Atalanta does not retain this personal data after it has been transmitted to INTERPOL;
– data relating to the equipment used by the persons concerned

Communication of information to CTF 151 and other maritime forces in the area
Until now, the HR was only authorized to communicate classified or unclassified documents to “the United Nations and other third parties associated with the joint action”. From now on she will also be able to communicate “ EU classified information and documents established for the purposes of the EU operation at EU RESTRICTED level »

– to the Combined Maritime Forces led by the United States, through their headquarters, (NB: CTF 151 or even CTF 150)

– as well as third States which do not participate in these forces and international organizations present in the area of ​​the operation,

under four conditions: “1) based on reciprocity, 2) when such communication at the theater level is necessary for operational reasons, 3) in accordance with Council security regulations and 4) subject to the arrangements made between the HR and the competent authorities of the aforementioned third parties »

This provision makes it possible to overcome the problems posed by the Turkish-Cypriot conflict which weigh on cooperation between the EU and NATO. Turkey indeed participates in CTF 151. And the mention of international organizations present in the area could concern NATO.

Read also:

(1) The 27 will decide to prolong and expand the Atalanta operation

(2) The Atalanta operation authorized to extend its area of ​​action. The law meets reality

(3) First transfer of a pirate for trial in Belgium

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).