On the lawless seas, it's not easy putting Somali pirates in the dock

Fri, 2008-12-12 16:54 by admin
Rough Seas

DECEMBER 12, 2008 - WSJ
On the Lawless Seas, It's Not Easy Putting Somali Pirates in the Dock

By PAULO PRADA and ALEX ROTH

Read the complete article (Wall Street Journal)

In September, special forces in the Royal Danish Navy intercepted two Somali fishing boats in the Gulf of Aden and arrested 10 suspected pirates.

But after holding the suspects for six days in wooden cells aboard the frigate HDMS Absalon, they let the men go. The Danish government wasn't convinced it could convict them, even though the men had been found with assault weapons and handwritten notebooks outlining how to split spoils with warlords on land.

That doubt, shared by many countries helping to patrol the waters connecting the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, reflects a dilemma that is turning one of the world's most vital shipping corridors into one of its most dangerous. Though piracy is a globally recognized crime, few governments are willing to navigate the legal and logistical barriers that impede convicting seaborn bandits.

Unless pirates are caught in the act of storming or holding a ship, authorities often can do little more than search for contraband when suspects are physically apprehended. Even with ample evidence, authorities then have to consider whether a crime can be proved in court and in what jurisdiction to try it.

In an apparent acknowledgement that the current piecemeal system for prosecuting pirates isn't working, the United Kingdom agreed Thursday to hand over captured suspected pirates to Kenya, which has shown a willingness to prosecute pirates captured off the shores of Somalia's lawless coast. …

Read the complete article (Wall Street Journal)