Jun 25, 2012
Captain Manu Mahajan
What's the solution to piracy?
Let us recognize the threats to a solution first: intransigence of governments, callousness and nickel and diming by ship owners, a multibillion dollar anti-piracy industry that has spawned across the globe and a remarkably weak or slow moving process at the IMO included. There will be no resolution to piracy without an aggressive display of will by all these dithering parties.
That said, the long term strategy has to be peace, stability and the return of the rule of law in Somalia. This will be a test of forbearance for the international community, what with the politics, links between the terrorist Al-Shabaab and piracy and the memories of the â€¢Black Hawk down' incident the ever-present elephant in the bedroom. Nonetheless, this is the only long term solution and it must be initiated at once.
In addition, on a day-to-day tactical basis, the objective- denying pirates access to ships at sea- demands that we take the following actions immediately.
1. Elements of the Best Management Practices and the recent lethal aggressiveness of navies have resulted in the beatings, torture, executions and killings of seafarers. Tactics that have put our sailors at risk of torture and execution must be discarded.
2. Simultaneously, we must:
- Ensure that armed guards are placed on all ships transiting the war zone. No ship with armed guards has been taken so far; why do some owners still hesitate to do so? Specious arguments against this course must be binned.
- Declare that any small boat approaching a merchant ship at more than ten knots in affected areas will be assumed to be hostile and may be fired upon without warning when within two cables.
- Prosecute captured pirates- in the country where the attacked ship is registered or at an international court- regardless of the nationality of victim seafarers, especially in cases of suspected torture or human rights abuses. Penalty on conviction should be- mandatorily- death. Amend UNCLOS and other laws as needed.
- An air and naval blockade around piracy strongholds in Somalia. This will be cheaper and more effective than patrolling the oceans and the Somali transitional government has stated, for its own reasons, that it is favourable to this idea. Search all craft moving in and out of this zone.
Do all this today. It is practical and possible, only, so far, both the flesh and the spirit have been proven weak.