Mar 23, 2011
The world is at least agreed on one thing, the end solution to Somali based piracy lies ashore not at sea. The scourge defies the best efforts of a truly international flotilla of warships comprising some 35 vessels operating at hitherto unprecedented levels of cooperation between them. In spite of their coordinated efforts to frustrate and eliminate piracy, it is openly acknowledged that eradication at sea is not possible given the area of ocean in which the pirates operate and available resources.
Political will is the only way of eradicating the problem. It does not take hindsight to fathom out that without robust and effective corrective action, spores have mushroomed to todayâs extent and they will continue to flourish. The menace should have been nipped in the bud rather allowing a generation to grow up left wallowing in a festering sore rather than having a decent dream for its future.
The catch, disarm and release policy that naval forces have to implement, must be galling for those who are constrained to carry out such missions. Releasing captured suspects that common sense dictates are set on acts of piracy only gives its perpetrators field training, allowing them to hone their skills in attack, avoiding capture and prosecution evasion. It certainly has no deterrent value and demoralizing for all concerned.
The UN Security Council last week called for more aid to Somalia and furthered its plan to build two pirate prisons, likely in Somalia and Puntland. The Seychelles government for one has reached some agreement with Somalia, Puntland and Somaliland to transfer those convicted in courts of the Seychelles to serve their sentences in their homelands. This however can only be once suitable facilities exist. A sizable problem in the pirate prison plan lies in the close association of pirate gangs with government authorities. This perhaps is indicative that the ringleaders who have greatly benefited from piracy may not be brought to the bar of justice, leaving only those who conduct seaborne piracy operations to bear the brunt.
As so often, carrots to encourage along with sticks to deter need wielding. Restoration of Somali society is paramount and ending of the catch and release presently practiced. With the lack of shore-based prisons, in the interim, floating detention facilities can be made brought into use to bring about a rapid reduction in piracy attacks.