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EU closes in against pirates

EU closes in against pirates
European Union legal teams are closing in on a deal that will allow naval forces operating in the Gulf of Aden to prosecute pirates in several regional states.

European Union legal teams are closing in on a deal that will allow naval forces operating in the Gulf of Aden to prosecute pirates in several regional states.

European Union legal teams are closing in on a deal that will allow naval forces operating in the Gulf of Aden to prosecute pirates in several regional states.

Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Egypt have all been identified as potential jurisdictions.

While bilateral agreements between states have allowed limited prosecutions to take place, no over-arching legal framework has yet been established.

According to the British commander of EU naval forces operating in the region, Rear Admiral Philip Jones, this situation has hamstrung efforts to deter piracy off Somalia.

?The key thing that I am looking for as the military commander of this operation is a viable set of legal instruments that will drive up the level of risk to the pirates for attempting piracy in the first place, and provide a much more effective deterrent to what they are attempting,? he told.

?Their risk-reward balance at the moment is weighted far too much in the favour of reward. We absolutely need to attack that.?

Complex diplomatic and legal negotiations have been running since the EU Council of Ministers launched the multi-force anti-piracy operation "Atlanta" in the Gulf of Aden in November last year.

According to Adm Philips an agreement with Kenya is now in its final stages, while separate negotiations with several other states are continuing.

The aim of the negotiations is to establish a legal mandate that will allow all EU forces operating off Somalia to detain pirates either on the high seas or within Somali territorial waters and subsequently land those suspects in a neighbouring coastal state for trial and prosecution.

One key stumbling block has been a political desire within EU member states to avoid signing deals with countries that impose the death penalty.

?Some EU member states have difficulty with some other regional states that we might be able to negotiate an agreement with. They have their own national concerns about whether that is viable under the European human rights legislation,? said Adm Philips.

?We are looking for assurances that whatever the pirates are convicted of the sentence not be death.?

Despite a recent pledge by authorities in Yemen to strengthen anti-piracy efforts, it is understood that the country, which retains the death penalty, will not form part of the EU legal agreement. Bilateral discussions with US authorities are also understood to have stumbled over concerns regarding the strength of Yemen"s legal system and its ability to prosecute suspects.

A spokesman for the International Chamber of Shipping told that an EU-wide legal agreement would be a very welcome and positive development in the continuing fight against piracy in the region.

?We hope it will encourage other nations to establish similar deals,? the spokesman said.

www.TurkishMaritime.com.tr

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