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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid