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
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Life and Style
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Mark Wright
tvStrictly goes head-to-head with Apprentice
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas