UN Security Council: On the prosecution of Somali pirates

Deputy Permanent Representative Tine Mørch Smith at the UN Security Council debate. Photo: UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

Deputy Permanent Representative Tine Mørch Smith at the UN Security Council debate. Photo: UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

Deputy Permanent Representative Tine Mørch Smith presented Norway’s statement to the UN Security Council on Wednesday August 25, 2010 on the issue of piracy off the coast of Somalia. Ambassador Mørch emphasized Norway’s belief that Somali pirates should be prosecuted and jailed in the region, close to where the act of piracy has been committed..

Norwegian statement below. Please check against delivery.

“Every twentieth ship passing through the Gulf of Aden is Norwegian-owned. Norway is severely affected by the increasing problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia, and is actively engaged in all relevant international forums with a view to fighting this phenomenon, offering greater protection to ships and their crews, and supporting those engaged in the prosecution and incarceration of pirates.

Norway values African leadership and puts great emphasis on supporting African solutions to the piracy problem. I wish in particular to thank the governments of Kenya and Seychelles for their leading roles thus far. Other states are preparing their own contributions. They are most welcome. These states deserve recognition and support for their efforts.

Impunity for piracy sends the wrong signal to the pirates and their bosses. It is simply unacceptable that suspects are released when there is sufficient evidence against them, as this undermines the credibility and effectiveness of the naval presence. Pirates must be brought to justice in accordance with widely recognized principles of due process and applicable human rights.

Norway appreciates the Council’s engagement in this issue since the very start. We strongly welcome the report of the Secretary-General, which we have studied with great interest, and which once again confirms the magnitude and urgency of the problem.

Ideally, Somalia should prosecute and imprison its own pirates. In parts of Somalia this is already the case, and such domestic efforts should be encouraged. Nevertheless, extradition to Somalia is not an option yet. We thus need well-functioning, alternative mechanisms for the prosecution of pirates. It is also important that such mechanisms have sufficient capacity.

Our point of departure is that prosecution and incarceration of pirates should take place in the region, close to where the actual act of piracy is committed. There are several reasons for this. First and foremost there are the preventive and deterring effects of prosecution and imprisonment. In addition, cultural, linguistic and family considerations are strong arguments. Cost-effectiveness and practical aspects, such as proximity as regards transfer by patrolling naval states, are also important.

In Norway’s view, what is referred to as option 1 – enhancing prosecution in existing judicial systems of states in the region – is the most favorable option for several reasons. This will promote burden-sharing between affected states in the region, it will develop the justice sector in states in the region in general (not only as regards prosecution for piracy), and it will prevent the creation of a two-tier system where pirates are treated differently from other criminals.

We strongly believe in financial burden-sharing. Affected states outside the region should take their share of the costs of prosecuting pirates. Norway has already contributed EUR 0.5 million to the CGPCS Trust Fund. Today I am pleased to announce, in response to the Secretary-General’s call, that we will immediately double our contribution to the fund. We encourage all affected states to follow suit, to ensure that the fund can continue its ambitious work beyond this autumn.

Norway believes that money from the trust fund should be spent primarily on capacity-building in the justice sector in states in the region that accept pirates for prosecution. Money from the fund should also be spent on projects in other states in the region that announce their willingness to prosecute pirates.

In addition, the trust fund should be used to strengthen the justice sector in Somalia. In the short term, the prison sector is being upgraded to make it possible for pirates convicted elsewhere to serve their sentences in Somaliland and Puntland.”

Source: Norway Mission to the UN

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