World leaders plan crackdown on Somali pirates

As David Cameron hosts summit to tackle threat to trade on the Indian Ocean, Britain is accused of soft-pedalling the issue

Special courtrooms in the Seychelles and Mauritius and purpose-built "pirate prisons" are among measures to be outlined this week as world leaders gather to plan a crackdown on Somali pirates.

David Cameron and other world leaders are expected to announce the moves at a meeting in London on Thursday. The aim of the gathering will be to hammer out a plan to improve stability in Somalia, which for more than 20 years has been lawless and beset by pirate gangs, rival clan militias and Islamist terrorists.

Drastic action is needed: more than 4,000 Somali pirates have been captured and released since 1999, nearly five times the number that have been successfully prosecuted. Not a single convicted pirate has completed their sentence.

Britain will work alongside UN officials looking at a range of measures, including transferring pirates to the Seychelles and Mauritius for trial under international law, and pouring money into internationally managed prisons in Puntland, to the north-east, and Somaliland, in the north. Delegates will also consider bringing captured pirates to the UK for prosecution.

Peter Cook, founder of the Security Association for the Maritime Industry, said: "Having internationally certified prisons in Somaliland and Puntland ensures that pirates stay within Somalia and is ultimately more constructive than someone disappearing into a Western country. It will build rather than destroy confidence in the regions, and ensures that there is a rule of law that sets a precedent. Eventually it could work its way down the coast."

Seafarers and shipping operators are increasingly angry that more has not been done to curb piracy in the Indian Ocean. Attacks rose to a record 237 in 2011, with ransoms worth £100m paid to release 31 hijacked vessels, according to a One Earth Future Foundation report released last week.

The UK remains one of the few Western nations not to have prosecuted a single pirate in the past three years, despite the taking of British hostages such as Paul and Rachel Chandler, who were kidnapped by Somalis for 13 months, and Judith Tebbutt, who was kidnapped from a Kenyan beach resort last September after her husband was shot. She has not been seen since.

Critics say the British approach is in stark contrast to that of the US, which has deployed special forces and drones for assassination missions. "No other country greets piracy with such a culture of silence," a senior security source said last night. "The UK's current deterrent amounts to nothing. Getting captured means, in most cases, losing your weapons and being taken back to Somalia and left on a beach."

But protests are being planned by campaigners who accuse the London Somalia Conference of having little to do with piracy or terrorism and instead being an attempt by Britain to secure its economic interests in the oil-rich and strategically important Horn of Africa.

Tom Donnelly, conflict and security adviser for Saferworld, an international think tank, said: "Security is the bedrock of progress in Somalia, but lasting security isn't going to come just from military intervention, special courts to try pirates, or training Somali police in counter-terrorism tactics. It will come from helping to reconcile Somalia's many local-level conflicts, so that ordinary Somalis themselves feel safer."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory