India suggests five step anti-piracy action plan

India has suggested a five step anti-piracy action plan to combat the menace in the Indian Ocean where Somali pirates are attacking ships and demanding millions of dollars as ransom money.

Updated: Jan 26, 2011, 16:34 PM IST

New York: India has suggested a
five step anti-piracy action plan to combat the menace in the
Indian Ocean where Somali pirates are attacking ships and
demanding millions of dollars as ransom money.

"Pirates have developed significant support
structures whereby they are able to hold hijacked ships and
crew hostages for months while their instigators and
supporters hold negotiations for ransom," Hardeep Singh Puri,
India`s ambassador to the UN, told the Security Council.

"It is particularly worrying that the pirates
have developed a modus operandi with terrorist organisations,”
he added.

The five steps Puri recommended are - tracking
the trail of ransom money to different parts of the world,
prosecution of the beneficiaries of ransom money for abetting
piracy, conduct of naval operations under the UN, sanitation
of the Somali coastline through identified corridors and
enactment of national laws to criminalise piracy.

"As a country with a coastline of over 7,5000
kilometres, criminal activities in the international waters
pose a serious threat to India," he said, noting that every
year trade worth 110 billion passes through the Gulf of Aden
off Somalia`s coast and every month 24 Indian ships cross the
pirate stronghold.

In a new report, the UN adviser on piracy, Richard
Lang, has called for setting up of special courts and prisons
to prosecute and hold suspected pirates.

Currently, nine out of 10 pirates are let loose
because there is no place to hold trials or imprison them.

"The situation is serious. I would even say it`s
worsening," Lang told the Security Council, noting that it
would cost USD 25 million over three years to get the new
infrastructure in place whereas losses to piracy amounted to
USD 7 billion annually.

Last year, pirates had hijacked 53 ships and
kidnapped 1,181 people in 2010, according to the International
Maritime Bureau, which are the highest figures recorded by the
bureau.

Under international agreements, currently,
prisoners are transferred to Kenya, Seychelles and Mauritius
for trial and incarceration. But these countries have said
they don`t want a flood of prisoner.

Lang proposed setting up two courts in Somalia`s
semi-autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland as well as
a "extraterritorial jurisdiction court” in Arusha,
Tanzania, which would apply Somali law.

Stephen Mathias, the top UN legal official, noted
that Lang`s proposals were being studied by Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon.

Mathias added that the UN would help build the
capacity of the proposed specialised chambers in Puntland and
Somaliland, but it would not select international judges or
prosecutors to sit on them.

PTI