The US envoy to Tanzania urged African nations to prosecute Somali pirates apprehended in the Indian Ocean as a way of tackling the continent’s growing piracy problem.
“Right now, Kenya and Seychelles are the only two countries in Africa that are prosecuting pirates,” said US Ambassador Alfonso Lenhardt.
“More countries need to come forward. That’s how to stop it.”
The coast off Somalia is among the worlds most dangerous for merchant shipping. The number of attacks worldwide jumped by 40 % last year, with gunmen from the failed Horn of Africa state accounting for more than half the 406 reported incidents.
The issue of jurisdiction to prosecute cropped up after a US Navy warship prevented an attack on a ship flying the Tanzanian flag last month and apprehended eight suspects.
He said the ship saved by US forces was actually a North Korean vessel flying the flag of the east African nation and the United States now was deciding who might prosecute the suspects.
“The law allows some prosecution only when Tanzanian citizens or Tanzanian ships are attacked,” Lenhardt told a news conference. “The Tanzanian government has to decide what it wants to do and how it is going to deal with this problem.”
“The international threat of piracy puts everyone at risk. By the fact that pirates are out there, goods and services cost more because ships have to skirt around them and insurance costs go up,” he said.
“It is to everyone’s benefit to keep those sea lanes opened.”
Pic: Somali pirate of the Gulf of Aden