News / Africa

Somali Pirates May be Heading to German Court

TEXT SIZE - +
Lisa Bryant

A group of 10 suspected Somali pirates are in the Netherlands - and likely  heading to Germany shortly to face trial. Their case is unusual - many alleged pirates are released. VOA reports on the international legal quagmire surrounding piracy off the Horn of Africa.

As piracy has exploded off the Horn of Africa so has the international quandary about what to do with suspected pirates. Many are arrested, notably by the European Union's anti-piracy unit, and have simply been disarmed and released.

But for some 10 suspected pirates who arrived in the Netherlands Wednesday, it's different. Germany has requested their extradition to try them in German courts.

Roger Middleton is an Africa analyst at Chatham House policy institute in London:

"The unique situation here is that the Germans are trying it because those pirates attacked a German vessel with I think a German crew on board, so there's a clear national interest in this case," Middleton said.

Another alleged Somali pirate was sent to the United States last year, to face trial in New York.

But too often, Middleton says, countries whose ships have been attacked by Somali pirates are reluctant to try them in their own territory - an expensive and complicated process. Trying them in Somalia is out of the question, since the country lacks a functioning government.

If the suspects are not released, they have very often been sent to Kenya for trial. But Nairobi has recently expressed reluctance about taking on new piracy cases, arguing its criminal justice system is already overburdened.

So what to do?

Pottengal Mukundan, director of the London-based International Maritime Tribunal, believes the international community should help strengthen the judicial systems in the semi-autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland.  

"The ideal solution is to try the pirates in Somalia so that it is seen as the local community punishing its own criminals," Mukundan said. "There you get the right deterrent effect. When pirates are taken very far away - to Europe or the US - back home they are considered, perhaps, to be heroes rather than the criminals they are."

Others are pushing for an international criminal court to try the pirates - such as those established in The Hague for major war crimes.

But analyst Middleton believes the right solution is a form of international burden sharing.  

"It's not fair that Kenya is the only country that is asked to prosecute pirates although they receive quite a lot of international assistance for this. There has to be some burden taken by the naval countries - by the European and American countries that are involved," Middleton said.

Middleton says India, Tanzania or the Seychelles could also try some of the pirates.

Analysts believe piracy will continue to plague the Horn of Africa so long as Somalia's political situation remains in turmoil. Which means the problem of bringing pirates to justice will not go away.

You May Like

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Egyptian Court Jails 23 Pro-Morsi Supporters

Meanwhile, Egyptian officials say gunmen have killed two members of the country's security forces More

Pakistani Journalists Protest Shooting of Colleague

Hamid Mir, a host for private television channel Geo, was wounded after being shot three times Saturday, but is expected to survive More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid