Denmark has signed an agreement with the Seychelles to enable the Danish navy operating off the Horn of Africa to hand over pirates to the Seychelles to be prosecuted, said officials.
Suspected pirates captured by navies escorting vessels through dangerous waters are often released after only brief detention due to governments’ reluctance to bring them to trial.
“Regional prosecution of pirates is a central element in the fight against pirates off Somalia,” Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen said in a statement, Reuters reports.
“With this agreement with the Seychelles, we on the Danish side have taken a new important step to create better possibilities for pirates to be prosecuted — and not just stopped,” Espersen said.
The Danish Foreign Ministry said in the statement that Denmark aims to sign similar agreements with other countries of the region. It did not say which countries.
Seychelles is one of several countries in east Africa and the Indian Ocean region conducting trials, or intending to try pirates, because Somalia lacks the legal infrastructure.
The Somali enclave on Puntland signed an agreement with the Seychelles last month on the repatriation and transfer of sentenced pirates.
Piracy is rife off the Horn of Africa, disrupting crucial shipping lanes between Europe and Asia, putting seamen, vessels and cargoes at risk and costing shippers huge sums to protect themselves.
The Round Table of international shipping associations has said that even when caught red-handed, 80 percent of pirates are released to attack again because governments do not authorise their naval forces to do more than deter and disrupt piracy.
The Danish merchant fleet is an important part of the global shipping industry, carrying about 10 percent of world trade.