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Mauritius agrees to prosecute pirate suspects
15 June 2012
The Indian Ocean state of Mauritius has agreed to prosecute suspected pirates captured by the British Royal Navy in a deal agreed between the UK and Mauritius governments.
The deal, agreed in London on 8 June, follows similar UK agreements with the Seychelles in 2010 and Tanzania in 2012. The UK government said: "We particularly want to see an end to pirates being captured and then released purely because there is nowhere to prosecute and imprison them. We must break the piracy business cycle. A key part of achieving this is the willingness of countries in the region to take suspected pirates for prosecution."
On action to prevent piracy, the use of onboard armed security teams continues to be controversial. While some maritime nations have authorised their use, backed by new laws and regulations, the Netherlands and Indonesia continue to reject private armed guards.
Defence minister Hans Hillen told the Dutch parliament on 13 June that the Netherlands would not authorise the use of private armed security guards on board Netherlands-flagged ships. However, the Dutch government continues to provide marines to protect its shipping in high-risk waters, although Dutch shipowners claim they are insufficient, as well as costly.
Speaking at the ITF Asia-Pacific seafarers and fisheries committee in Jakarta on 12 June, the Indonesian Transportation Minister E E Mangindaan said: “The government will consistently oppose the proposal due to the absence of national and international legal instruments.” He added that the use of private armed security guards could raise security problems and crimes on board ships, and that his government backed bilateral, regional and international cooperation in the fight against armed robbery, hijacking and piracy.
There was relief for 22 seafarers held hostage by Somali pirates who have now been released. The 21 Filipinos and one Greek crewmember of the Greek-owned, Marshalls Island-flagged chemical tanker Liquid Velvet were freed after they had been held captive for six months. The ship had been hijacked inside the safe transit corridor of the Gulf of Aden on 31 October 2011. At one stage it was reported to have been used as a mother ship for further pirate attacks, and the pirates were reported as demanding a ransom of US$8 million.
Following their release, figures from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) worldwide piracy reporting centre, indicate that Somali pirates currently hold captive about 11 vessels and 157 hostages. Hostages continue to include seven Indian seafarers from the Asphalt Venture and four South Koreans from the Gemini, still held captive despite the payment of ransoms. However, there have been no reports to the IMB of any pirate attacks or armed robbery incidents worldwide in the last week.
All attacks and suspicious sightings should be reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre, Tel: +603 2031 0014 (24 hours), Email: email@example.com
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