India suggests five step anti-piracy action plan
India has suggested a five step anti-piracy action plan to combat the menace in the Indian Ocean where Somali pirates are attacking ships and demanding millions of dollars as ransom money.
"Pirates have developed significant support structures whereby they are able to hold hijacked ships and crew hostages for months while their instigators and supporters hold negotiations for ransom," Hardeep Singh Puri, India's ambassador to the UN, told the Security Council.
"It is particularly worrying that the pirates have developed a modus vivindi with terrorist organisations,” he added.
The five steps Puri recommended are—tracking the trail of ransom money to different parts of the world, prosecution of the beneficiaries of ransom money for abetting piracy, conduct of naval operations under the UN, sanitation of the Somali coastline through identified corridors and enactment of national laws to criminalise piracy.
"As a country with a coastline of over 7,5000 kilometres, criminal activities in the international waters pose a serious threat to India," he said, noting that every year trade worth 110 billion passes through the Gulf of Aden off Somalia's coast and every month 24 Indian ships cross the pirate stronghold.
In a new report, the UN adviser on piracy, Richard Lang, has called for setting up of special courts and prisons to prosecute and hold suspected pirates.
Currently, nine out of 10 pirates are let loose because there is no place to hold trials or imprison them.
"The situation is serious. I would even say it's worsening," Lang told the Security Council, noting that it would cost USD 25 million over three years to get the new infrastructure in place whereas losses to piracy amounted to USD 7 billion annually.
Last year, pirates had hijacked 53 ships and kidnapped 1,181 people in 2010, according to the International Maritime Bureau, which are the highest figures recorded by the bureau.
Under international agreements, currently, prisoners are transferred to Kenya, Seychelles and Mauritius for trial and incarceration. But these countries have said they don't want a flood of prisoner.
Lang proposed setting up two courts in Somalia's semi-autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland as well as a "extraterritorial jurisdiction court’ in Arusha, Tanzania, which would apply Somali law.
Stephen Mathias, the top UN legal official, noted that Lang's proposals were being studied by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Mathias added that the UN would help build the capacity of the proposed specialised chambers in Puntland and Somaliland, but it would not select international judges or prosecutors to sit on them.