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‘Somali pirates demand human rights’


Battle against piracy undermined by accountability issues

‘Somali pirates demand human rights’


In spite of pirates operating from Somalia with the backing of criminal networks threaten international trade causing massive financial losses, the global community is reluctant to go all out against them due to human rights concern.
Brendra Pimentel, regional head of the International Migration Organization (IMO), yesterday acknowledged that human rights issues were an obstacle to ongoing efforts to neutralize the threat posed by piracy. Ms. Pimentel said that those engaged in piracy, too, insisted on their human rights. The official indicated that the fight against piracy couldn’t be at the expense of human rights.
The IMO official was responding to a query raised by a participant at Galle Dialogue 2011 at Light House Hotel Galle. Ms. Pimentel’s assertion on the perceived rights of the pirates raised eyebrows of many participants, particularly among Sri Lankan military personnel.
Capt. S. Balakrishnan, Principal Director, Naval Operations, in his presentation estimated the losses and cost of piracy between $ 07 to 12 billion annually. According to him, existing national and international laws were wholly inadequate to deal with those arrested for piracy on the high seas. The Indian official said that Somali pirates continued to hold nine ships and 250 crew members. Among those detained by the Somalis are 53 personnel.
Responding to a query, Capt. Balakrishnan emphasized the urgent need to introduce new laws to enable individual countries to prosecute those held for piracy. The official explained the difficulties faced by India in dealing with pirates arrested in operations conducted beyond Indian territorial waters. Capt. Balakrishnan revealed that there were 120 pirates in their custody at the moment. India is in the process of introducing new laws to punish pirates. Capt. Balakrishnan said that those countries engaged in anti-piracy operations should have the judicial powers to try pirates taken into custody.
Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Ibrahim, of the Maldivian National Defence Force, said that they hadn’t been successful in repatriating 37 Somali pirates. "We don’t have adequate laws to deal with the situation. Regional governments should set up a mechanism to deal with those arrested for piracy."
Commenting on the deployment of international naval assets for anti-piracy operations world over, retired Vice Admiral Pradeep Kaushiva alleged that the deployment of ships by regional and global players was strategic in nature. Kaushiva said that anti-piracy operations weren’t the priority of those battling criminal gangs.
The session was told that the international community had no tangible action plan to counter the threat emanating from Somalia. Delegates agreed that naval operations alone couldn’t solve the crisis and that cohesive action was needed on the ground to put pirates out of action. They acknowledged that many countries engaged in anti-piracy operations wouldn’t take pirates in to custody as they didn’t want to experience unnecessary problem.
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