UN Delays Action While National Prosecutions Continue

The UN Security Council adopted a Security Council Resolution relevant to Jack Lang’s report.  As to efforts to prosecute pirates it included the following language:

[The UNSC] Decides to urgently consider the establishment of specialized Somali courts to try suspected pirates both in Somalia and in the region, including an extraterritorial Somali specialized anti-piracy court, as referred to in the recommendations contained in the report of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Legal Issues Related to Piracy off the Coast of Somalia Mr. Jack Lang (Annex to document S/2011/30), consistent with applicable human rights law, and requests the Secretary-General to report within two months on the modalities of such prosecution mechanisms, including on the participation of international personnel and on other international support and assistance, taking into account the work of the CGPCS and in consultation with concerned regional States and expresses its intention to take further decisions on this matter (emphasis added)

Billed as adopting the recommendations set out in Jack Lang’s report, the resolution calls for another report within two months on the modalities on setting up an anti-piracy court outside of Somalia. The resolution also attempts to address some of the underlying causes of piracy by “[requesting] the Secretary-General to report within six months on the protection of Somali natural resources and waters, and on alleged illegal fishing and illegal dumping, including of toxic substances, off the coast of Somalia” since “allegations of illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste in Somali waters have been used by pirates in an attempt to justify their criminal activities.” So…the wait for a comprehensive solution continues.

In the meantime, national prosecutions fill the void.  In what appears to be the first case of its kind, the U.S. has arrested a Somali on Somali soil, alleging he was involved in negotiating a ransom of hostages. This is an attempt to prosecute not only pirates who execute attacks, but also those who finance, plan, organize, or unlawfully profit from pirate attacks. This prosecution will provide some interesting legal precedent as to the definition of piracy. Did this man finance, plan or organize the attacks? or was he just another middleman conversant in technology and English? In any event, it will be interesting to see if the FBI attempts to leverage this prosecution into higher levels of the criminal organization.

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