Piracy Report Tomorrow

Jack Lang, the Special Adviser on Legal Issues related to Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, is due to issue his report tomorrow.  Lang was appointed by the Secretary General last August to:

identify any additional steps that can be taken to assist States in the region, as well as other States, to prosecute and imprison persons who engage in piracy; and explore the willingness of States in the region to serve as potential host for any of the options for potential new judicial mechanisms set out in the report of the Secretary-General.

The 26 July 2010 Secretary General’s Report set out 7 options to prosecute and imprison suspected acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia, including creating a special domestic chambers with international components, a regional tribunal or an international tribunal. [For further discussion, see the report: Suppressing Maritime Piracy -Exploring the Options in International Law.]

One of the options discussed by the Report, and which has been favored as a practical matter until present, has been to provide financial support to States within the region to prosecute suspected pirates in their national courts invoking universal jurisdiction. In this regard, the UN Office for Drugs and Crime and other donors have provided $5 million to refurbish the Shimo La Tewa court and prison in Mombasa where the suspects were being tried by Kenyan prosecutors.  The Seychelles has also started prosecuting pirates in its national courts with some assistance from the UN. Despite these efforts, Jack Lang, says that 9 out of every 10 pirates captured by marines are freed. Furthermore, in November 2010, the Kenyan High Court held that the Kenyan penal code does not give Kenyan courts jurisdiction over piracy on international waters, rendering in doubt any convictions obtained to date and casting a shadow on further efforts to prosecute suspected pirates in Kenyan courts.

The question now is what measures Jack Lang will propose. He hopes for a Security Council Resolution within three to four weeks.

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