UK announces counter-piracy initiatives for Somalia

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The United Kingdom is establishing a number of counter-piracy initiatives for Somalia as it attempts to stabilise the wartorn country, having concluded a conference dealing with these and other issues.

The programmes emerged from the Somalia summit on Thursday, which brought together representatives from more than 40 countries, including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. They met in London to agree on a series of practical measures to support Somalia including further measures to tackle piracy and its root causes.

It was announced after the conference that the UK’s Foreign Secretary William Hague and Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe signed a Memorandum of Understanding allowing the Royal Navy to transfer suspected pirates to Tanzania to be prosecuted. The Foreign Secretary also signed a statement of intent with Mauritian Foreign Minsiter Arvin Boolell to conclude such an MOU by early June. The UK said it would continue to work with other states in the region to secure similar agreements.

Meanwhile, Somaliland signed a groundbreaking agreement with the Seychelles to transfer convicted pirates to prisons in Somaliland – the first transfer of 19 convicted pirates is likely to take place by the end of March. Puntland made clear its commitment to the transfer of convicted pirates from prisons in the region to prisons in Puntland from August.

And the UK announced the creation of an international task force on pirate ransoms. This will bring together experts from across the world to better understand the ransom business cycle and how to break it.

These steps come on top of further practical measures announced earlier in the week. Hague on Tuesday said that the UK would provide £550 000 for the construction of a new Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecutions Intelligence Co-ordination Centre based in the Seychelles.

The RAPPICC will coordinate and analyse intelligence to inform law enforcement agencies and turn intelligence into evidence for pirate prosecution, the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office said.
“The establishment of a new intelligence co-ordination centre will allow the international community to target the king-pins of piracy and ensure piracy does not pay,” Hague said.
“For too long, the international community has focused its efforts on the young desperate men who are sent out to sea, without seeking to hold to account those who finance and enable huge pirate operations. The new Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecutions Intelligence Co-ordination Centre (RAPPICC), based in the Seychelles, will ensure that is no longer the case. I am pleased that the UK is able to provide the first Director and £550 000 to fund the construction of the RAPPICC, which will be operational in time for the seasonal increase in pirate activity. The Seychelles and Dutch governments, as well as INTERPOL, have made commitments to support this centre, and I hope that others will follow their lead.
“The UK will also provide £150 000 to support for the UN Political Office for Somalia in creating a pilot maritime security coordination office in a stable region within Somalia. The office will help to ensure greater coordination of counter-piracy activity on the ground to maximise the impact of the international community’s efforts,” Hague added.
“The UK will continue to work closely with countries across the East African and Indian Ocean region and around the world to ensure that our efforts to tackle piracy are comprehensive and coordinated. We particularly want to see an end to pirates being captured and then released because there is nowhere to prosecute and imprison them.”

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office said that it wanted to see a seamless cycle of justice where pirates are caught at sea by the Royal Navy, prosecuted in regional states and imprisoned in Somalia. The Office emphasised the fact that piracy is a symptom as well as a cause of Somalia’s lack of stability – piracy cannot be solved by action at sea alone, which is why the Somalia Conference also addressed the root causes on land.

Furthermore, on Thursday Shell, BP, Maersk and the Japanese shipping industry announced a joint initiative aimed at supporting community and job creation projects in the coastal regions of Somalia in an effort to stop pirates from going to sea. Each company will contribute around US$500 000 over a period of two years, Shell said.

Grahaeme Henderson, Head of Shell Shipping, said that, “Ending piracy lies in part in helping the people of Somalia, and providing education and alternative livelihoods. Shell is proud to have contributed to the broader counter-piracy effort. We very much hope that others in industry will join us.”
“Piracy is a problem at sea, which must be addressed by the international community, and requires a long-term sustainable solution on land. We are willing to contribute to the solution, which is why Maersk supports this initiative,” said Hanne B Sorensen, CEO of Maersk Tankers.