NEW YORK, NY – The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in New York has commended Seychelles and Kenya for their lead in prosecuting and imprisoning pirates in the Indian Ocean.
The Security Council last week held a debate on piracy off the coast of Somalia at which Seychelles ambassador to the United Nations, Ronny Jumeau, called on the international community to support the regional plan of action to encourage more countries in and around the Indian Ocean to play a more active role in combating, prosecuting, and imprisoning pirates.
UNSC president Vitaly Churkin of Russia said the Security Council “commends the ongoing efforts of states, including states in the region, in particular Kenya and the Seychelles, to prosecute suspected pirates in their national courts” and stressed the need for all countries to criminalize piracy under their domestic law.
Many countries which spoke in the debate also praised the example set by Seychelles and Kenya.
“I wish in particular to thank the governments of Kenya and the Seychelles for their leading roles,” said the Norwegian representative in explaining that Norway put “great emphasis on supporting African solutions to the piracy problem.”
“Japan highly commends the efforts undertaken by the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, Kenya, and Seychelles,” said Japanese ambassador Tsuneo Nishida in speaking of the various anti-piracy activities in the region.
Mexico acknowledged “the political commitment of the states of the region and the progress that has been made, as shown by the cases of Kenya and Seychelles” while the United Kingdom welcomed Seychelles’ agreement to accept pirate suspects for trial and detention and the first completion of a piracy trial there.
Welcoming and commending Seychelles’ and Kenya’s efforts, Brazil, however, noted, “The burden of prosecuting suspected pirates should not lie solely with the states in the region, which are already disproportionately affected by the crisis.”
France invited states of the region to accept suspected pirates for prosecution “following the example of Kenya and Seychelles” especially as countries in the region are the main victims of the deterioration of security off their coasts.
Nigeria noted that while combating piracy through national prosecutions by Somalia, Kenya and Seychelles had borne fruit, there nevertheless were limited resources. The Nigerian ambassador called for a “broader coalition of the willing to share responsibility for prosecuting piracy suspects in the manner of Kenya and the Seychelles.”
Austria pointed out that while prosecuting pirates was an important element of effective counter-piracy measures, it could also be a burden for regional states, especially Kenya and Seychelles.
The European Union representative said the EU had already expressed its readiness to play a proactive support role by contributing to the implementation of regional strategy. EU Charge d’affaires Peter Schwaiger said the European Union was grateful to its partners in the region who were showing leadership in prosecuting suspected pirates captured in the course of operations.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, Tanzania, Philippines, and the African Union also joined in commending Seychelles and Kenya for taking the lead in bringing pirates to justice in the region.
Statement by HE Mr. Ronald Jumeau, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Seychelles to the United Nations at the meeting of the Security Council on the Situation in Somalia (piracy); New York, UNHQ (August 25, 2010)
“Mr. President, may I begin by expressing Seychelles’ condolences to the Ambassador, the people and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia over the bomb attack in Mogadishu yesterday and my country’s strong condemnation of the attack.
“Mr. President, I am pleased to inform the Security Council that on 26 July 2010, the Seychelles Supreme Court convicted 11 Somali pirates and sentenced each of them to 10 years in prison, the first time pirates were convicted by a Seychelles court of law.
“What’s more, only eight of the pirates were found guilty of actually committing an act of piracy. The other three were convicted of “aiding and abetting” piracy after Seychelles amended its domestic laws so that a person does not have to be caught in an actual act of piracy to be arrested and successfully prosecuted.
“Another 29 suspected pirates are awaiting trial in Seychelles or transfer to Somalia.
“Mr. President, this underscores Seychelles’ determination and firm commitment to play a pro-active role in combating, arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning pirates. We hope it will also serve as a further example that, as has also been shown in Kenya, piracy can be tackled through domestic legislation where there is the political will and courage to do so.
“But this is not the only way in which Seychelles, the smallest country in Africa and the Indian Ocean and one of the states most heavily impacted by piracy in the region, has shown its willingness and determination to lead from the front.
“Since the General Assembly’s informal meeting on piracy in May this year, Seychelles has hosted no fewer than four international and regional meetings of ministers, parliamentarians and technical and military experts to, among others, spearhead a regional approach to tackle piracy in the Indian Ocean.
“This started on 21st May when Ministers from six eastern and southern African countries, the European Union’s High Level Representative for Foreign Affairs and Vice-President of the European Commission, and representatives of the African Union, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), Interpol and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) met in Seychelles to lay the foundations for a regional plan to combat piracy.
“This was followed in July by the Seychelles International Symposium on Maritime Security that saw the participation of a representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, the World Bank, the International Maritime Organization and countries and organizations from both inside and outside the Indian Ocean region.
“July also saw Seychelles host the 5th Regional Meeting of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly that looked at piracy among other issues, and a joint COMESA-IOC workshop that started work on the nuts and bolts of a regional plan of action.
“As you can see, Mr. President, Seychelles is firmly committed and determined to do as much as it can, within the limits of its resources and with the much-valued support and assistance of partner countries and organizations.
“In the past three months, a number of these partners, in particular the UNODC, the EU, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, India and Germany, responded to Seychelles’ initiatives with generous offers of support in the form of technical assistance, capacity building, the building of infrastructure and provision of funding and equipment for which we are deeply grateful.
“The Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) held in Windhoek, Namibia, last week noted the economic and security threat posed by piracy in the coastal waters of SADC member states. It also mandated its Secretariat to send a team of experts to establish the extent of the problem and recommend appropriate measures.
“Seychelles calls on the international community to provide generous support to the regional plan of action which is well on its way to being approved by countries of the region and key international partners.
“A well-supported regional plan will encourage more countries in and around the Indian Ocean to play a more active role in combating, prosecuting and imprisoning pirates, and relieve international partners from outside the region of some of the high costs of stationing naval and other military units in the Indian Ocean.
“Mr. President, as the Security Council considers the various options put before it by the Secretary-General to more effectively bring pirates to justice, I would like to remind you that the current rough seas of the south-east monsoon in the Indian Ocean will die down towards the end of September when there will once again be an upsurge in pirate activity off the coast of Somalia, reaching as far south as Madagascar and as far east as Maldives and India.
“Seychelles has meanwhile used the lull in pirate activity caused by the bad weather to show that a lot can be done to combat piracy by the region itself, and within the boundaries of domestic law, if there is the political will and commitment to do so, accompanied by the necessary international support and solidarity.
“I thank you, Mr. President.”