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India highlights 'hostage' problem, UNSC adopts resolution

world Updated: Apr 12, 2011 15:37 IST

India has highlighted at the UN Security Council the problem of hostages being taken by pirates in the Indian Ocean, as the world body adopted a resolution seeking specialised international courts, prisons and new laws to combat Somali pirates.

The UNSC also strongly condemned the practice of hostage-taking by pirates, a problem the Indian side said the Council had not considered for long.

The Security Council adopted a resolution yesterday that called for "a comprehensive response to tackle piracy and its underlying causes by the international community," while calling for an immediate release of all hostages.

The resolution said the council "decides to urgently consider the establishment of specialised Somali courts to try suspected pirates both in Somalia and in the region, including an extra-territorial Somali specialised anti-piracy court."

The Indian mission to the UN, said in statement: "So far the Security Council had not considered the problems of hostages taken by pirates".

"At India's initiative, however, the Council has addressed this issue for the first time in a resolution of the Security Council," it added.

It has been a matter of serious concern for India that 53 Indian nationals, who were aboard the hijacked ships, are being held captive by pirates, the Indian statement said.

A Russian drafted resolution, adopted unanimously by the 15-member-body, called for the immediate release of all hostages and also called on States to cooperate, as appropriate, on the issue of hostage taking.

The International Maritime Bureau reported that in 2010 alone, 1,016 sailors of all nationalities were taken hostage by Somali pirates, of whom 638 continue to remain in captivity.

The council called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to prepare recommendations on setting up the courts within two months.

Last month, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, the Prime Minister of Somalia, told the Council that piracy could not been defeated on the high-seas but through helping the coastal communities develop alternatives means of livelihood.

Mohamed, whose Western-backed transitional federal government is struggling to wrest control from al-Shabab, a group linked with al Qaeda, warned that piracy could feed into terrorist activity.

"It will not surprise us if al Qaeda's agents in Somalia start hijacking tankers in the high seas and use them as deadly weapons as they did in September 2011," he said.

"Why bother with a small plane when you can capture a tanker."