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somali pirates convicted in german court

full article here.

  • arguments about being forced into piracy by a leader rejected
  • arguments about being forced into piracy (or not actually committing piracy) because of desperation also not dismissed, although taken into account in sentencing
  • 7 years for adults, 3 years for minors
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kenyan courts can start trying somali (and other) pirates caught in international waters

full story here.

follow[ing] a 2010 Kenyan High Court judgement [that] courts could only deal with offenses carried out within the country’s territory… Kenya’s Court of Appeal rules the country’s courts have jurisdiction to try pirates caught in international waters.

 

 

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‘party over’ for somali pirates

first of all, i don’t think i fully understood that the somali pirates were partying. however, “the empty whiskey bottles and overturned, sand-filled skiffs littering this once-bustling shoreline (of Hobyo) are signs that the heydey of Somali piracy might be over. most of the prostitutes are gone and the luxury cars repossessed. pirates while away their hours playing cards or catching lobsters.”

hobya as the modern-day tortuga? read all here.

 

 

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continued declines in piracy but bolder in West Africa

a more complete review is here.

  • “outside of Somalia, most of the piracy is basically robbing the crew of their valuables and any portable items of worth from the ship (that will fit into the pirates’ small boat).”
  • “some of the pirates on the west coast of Africa (mainly the Gulf of Guinea) have become bolder and are hijacking ships (which they mainly take only long enough to steal the cargo).”
  • “there are still multi-million dollar ransoms to be had for Somali pirates (the only ones on the planet with safe harbors to store their captured ships while the ransom is negotiated).”

 

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middle east gulf piracy expected to actively continue for a minimum of 10 years

report (Managing Supply Chain Risk: Understanding Piracy Threat) released from the 4th ‘Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association Supply Chain Conference.’

this year marks a turning point in piracy activities. the number of vessels captured in 2011 compared to 2010 reduced by over 50 per cent and further reductions are expected in the coming years.

however, as the success rate for capturing ships decreases, ransom requests are getting higher and Somali pirates are becoming more aggressive and strategic, said the report… pirates are acting further off the coast of Somalia, and are now in the Gulf of Oman, positioning themselves closer to traffic lanes in search of vessels of opportunity.

piracy is symptomatic of the socio-economic predicament of the Somali nation and eradicating it depends on the economic future of Eastern Africa. ultimately, the long-term solution must include rebuilding the country and providing alternative economic opportunities to “would-be” pirates addressing the root causes of piracy: the impoverished circumstances of many of the actors.

even in the “best-case” scenario, when all measures are successfully implemented, and root-causes are fixed, the real piracy threat is expected to remain for at least the next 10 years.

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pirates make UN sexy — but at high price

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-16/war-on-somali-piracy-needs-rules-and-impregnable-citadels.html

key points:

  • pirates (as a topic, apparently, not as guests) make a meeting sexy
  • 219 piracy incidents in 2010 cost  “the shipping industry, insurers, navies and law enforcement more than $7 billion”
  • speeding may not be the answer but impregnable citadels are (?). shockingly, “it may be futile to expect shippers to run at full speed through an entire danger zone, as recommended in the industry’s current Best Management Practices.” (seriously?)  “rather, with better information sharing among the various navies in the Indian Ocean and timely assessments of pirate action from risk consultants and shipping companies themselves, ships’ masters can learn what particular areas to avoid or speed through.”
  • “the IMO should support the for accreditation and certification standards of private maritime-security companies, and push for a global convention that would create a legal structure for prosecuting open-water piracy — a Hague for the High Seas. “the guidelines could cover everything from rules of engagement to the management of firearms to training in lifesaving.”

is this how you repay the pirates for jazzing up your organization?

the author notes that “the only “cure” for Indian Ocean piracy will be stability and economic growth in Somalia” but doesn’t say much about increasing piracy “off western AfricaSouth America and Southeast Asia.”

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eu carries out airstrikes on mainland somali pirate bases

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-18069685

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/2012/0515/EU-airstrike-on-Somali-pirates-echoes-US-drone-strategy

eu is now allowing airstrikes on on-land targets, a move about which the somali government was aware. however, no eu boots are ashore in these operations.

By bringing its fighting strategy more in line with that of the US, Europe is playing “a very dangerous game,” says Bronwyn Burton,  deputy director of the Michael S. Ansari Center at TheAtlantic Council and an expert on Somalia. “Both sides would probably agree that the solution to both piracy and terrorism is state building in Somalia,” she said. “But despite a lot of lip service being paid to that kind of policy, what we have now instead is first the US and now the EU pursuing a policy of diplomacy by airstrike.”

***

Bile Hussein, a pirate commander, said the attack along Somalia’s central coastline destroyed speed boats, fuel depots and an arms store.

“They destroyed our equipment to ashes. It was a key supplies center for us,” Hussein said. “The fuel contributed to the flames and destruction. Nothing was spared.”

***

The EU is the main donor to the Somali transitional government. It also trains Somali army troops, and is reinforcing the navies of five neighboring countries to enable them to counter piracy themselves… Rear Adm. Duncan Potts, Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force, said the attack will increase the pressure and disrupt pirates’ efforts to get out to sea to attack merchant shipping and dhows.

The EU Naval Force is responsible for the protection of World Food Program ships carrying humanitarian aid for Somalia, and the logistic support vessels of the African Union troops conducting operations there. It also monitors fishing activity off the coast of Somalia, which has been without a functioning government since 1991, when dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown.

The EU’s more robust mandate for its naval force allows it for the first time to mount strikes against pirate targets on Somalia’s “coastal territory and internal waters.” When the policy was announced, officials said the new tactics could include using warships or their helicopters to target pirate boats moored along the shoreline, as well as land vehicles or fuel tanks used by the pirates.

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somali pirates switching back to smaller boats

to remain less conspicuous, Somali pirates have been switching back to using smaller, more traditional boats (e.g., i think) as motherships, which blend in with fishing boats. this probably will keep them closer to shore.

more here. a few points of note:

  • “a study published in February by U.S. non-governmental organisation One Earth Future Foundation showed Somali piracy cost the world economy some $7 billion last year. The total paid in ransoms reached $160 million, with an average ransom for a ship rising to $5 million, from around $4 million in 2010.”
  • turns out, the indian ocean is real big – and therefore hard to monitor. presumably, not much of a revelation?
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pirates in the news! (also, kids, if you’re a famous pirate, you still maybe shouldn’t do drugs)

here but yet to be corroborated.

it’s unclear if the Iranians really have Garad. so far, only Africa Review is reporting it… “He was like Carlos the Jackal in the crime world,” Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers Association told Africa Review [about Garad].

according to David F. Marley…the “secretive” Garad — it’s not his real name; it means “clan leader” — worked his way up from hijacking small vessels near the Somali fishing port of Eyl to seizing a Japanese bulk carrier, the Stella Maris, for 11 weeks in 2008 before its owners paid him $2 million. not many people have interviewed Garad. during one of his rare interviews, Marley recounts, Garad appeared “ragged” and his eyes were “scratched raw by constant rubbing — a textbook case of khat withdrawal.”

Garad may have been on drugs if he underestimated the Iranian navy.

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Development effects of piracy in Somalia (as studied by day & night satellite images)

Can I come up with a reason to study the health impacts of piracy? Ideas welcome!

Piracy has created employment and considerable multiplier effects in the Puntland economy, even if a significant proportion of the proceeds is invested in foreign goods or channelled to foreign financiers. The distribution of ransoms follows traditional patterns in Somalia, involving considerable redistribution and investment in urban centres rather than coastal villages. Piracy-related gains have been largely offset, however, by the rise in international food prices. While Puntlanders are relatively better off than the rest of the country as a result of piracy, the poor are no better off in absolute terms.”

The total cost of piracy off the Horn of Africa (including the counter-piracy measures) was estimated to be in the region of US$7–12 billion for 2010, while ransoms were said to be in the region of US$250 million. Even if Somali communities received all of the ransom money, replacing this source of income (for example with a combination of a foreign-funded security forces and development aid) would be considerably cheaper than continuing with the status quo. A negotiated solution to the piracy problem should aim to exploit local disappointment among coastal communities regarding the economic benefits from piracy and offer them an alternative that brings them far greater benefits than hosting pirates does. A military crack-down on the other hand would deprive one of the world’s poorest nations of an important source of income and aggravate poverty.”

Full report: Treasure Mapped: Using Satellite Imagery to Track the Developmental Effects of Somali Piracy

h/t: Alex Evans