News / Africa

Somali Piracy Diminishes, but Networks Remain a Threat

Somali Piracy Diminishes, but Networks Remain a Threati
X
May 01, 2013 7:00 PM
On June 3, the United States begins a capital murder trial against three alleged Somali pirates -- accused of killing four Americans at sea. If convicted, the defendants could be sentenced to death. While more pirates are being convicted in courts around the world, the kingpins who profit most from the crime continue their work with impunity. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more.
Mary Alice Salinas
On June 3, the United States begins a capital murder trial against three alleged Somali pirates, accused of killing four Americans at sea.  If convicted, the defendants could be sentenced to death. While more pirates are being convicted in courts around the world, the kingpins who profit most from the crime continue their work with impunity.  

In the last decade, shipping off the coast of Somalia was subjected to relentless pirate attacks, the numbers peaking in 2011 with 176 reported cases. Now, though, international naval patrols and armed guards on ships are keeping the pirates at bay. But this cannot last for long, said Pottengal Mukundan, director of the International Maritime Bureau.

“The root cause of piracy is not at sea, it is on shore in Somalia," he said. "So long as Somalia has got parts of the country which are ungoverned without law enforcement or judicial systems, piracy is going to continue.

The pirates operate largely in the open along Somalia’s central coast, making it a high-profit, low-risk enterprise for the kingpins. They have pulled in hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom paid by shipping companies to free their vessels and crews.

Despite the current security measures, Mukundan said he is not aware of a single criminal piracy network that has been dismantled, providing crime bosses with even more incentive to keep operating.

  • A masked Somali pirate stands near a Taiwanese fishing vessel that washed up on shore after the pirates were paid a ransom and released the crew, in the once-bustling pirate den of Hobyo, Somalia, Sept. 23, 2012.
  • German marine forces as part of the European Union Naval Force Operation Atalanta, intercept a ship with suspected pirates off the coast of Tanzania, November 4, 2011.
  • Crew members of the Panama-flagged cargo ship MV Asphalt Venture freed by pirates look out from the ship at the Kenyan Port of Mombasa, April 28, 2011.
  • South Korean naval special forces take up positions during an operation to rescue crew members on the Samho Jewelry vessel in the Arabian Sea, Jan. 21, 2011.
  • As part of the EU Naval Force Somalia, the German Frigate 'Hamburg' patrols after destroying two fishing boats (L) which were discovered floating keel side up in open waters off the coast of Somalia, August 15, 2011.

Authorities are navigating a maze of often-conflicting national and international laws that prevent them from getting to the top players, said Donna Hopkins from the International Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.

“We’re working very hard to identify those people and indict them for crimes of which they are clearly guilty and see that they are charged.  I am not going to tell you who they are but we have a very clear idea who they are.  For the last four years the international community has worked very hard to identify who so we could get at the real guts of this organization," Hopkins said.
 
The contact group has dozens of members, including governments, industry groups, the United Nations and the African Union. The group has found that the piracy network straddles continents and that some top government officials have been involved, Hopkins said.

“There are certainly high-level officials inside Somalia and elsewhere who have been complicit in this crime and the money laundering that’s attendant to pushing the ransom money out to other enterprises," she said.

With no central banking system in Somalia, authorities have had a difficult time following a money trail.

But the International Maritime Bureau's  Mukundan sees positive signs.  The new government in Mogadishu -- the first one in more than 20 years widely viewed as legitimate -- has vowed to put judicial and law enforcement systems in place.

“At the moment the signs are very encouraging," he said. "They have a long way to go.”

The IMB says that in the first quarter of 2013, there were only five reported piracy incidents off the Somali coast. But still, Mukundan warns, international naval might and shipping companies' anti-piracy efforts are just barely holding the line.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kitagawa Keikoh from: Nakameguro, JPN
May 01, 2013 9:51 PM
Government officials of Somalia are the kingpins of piracy same as the ancient UK. The UK used to get money from other country's ship using pirates and they became one of the big county by the help of the pirates.

Commercial vessels have only water jet gun to fight pirates. Do you think they can fight against the pirates with water? We should allow them to have fire weapons to fight.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid