Somali pirates on Tuesday seized a tugboat operated by the French oil company Total as the U.N. anti-crime agency called for a special maritime police force for the insecure Gulf of Aden coastline.
Somali pirates on Tuesday seized a tugboat operated by the French oil company Total as the U.N. anti-crime agency called for a special maritime police force for the insecure Gulf of Aden coastline. Somali pirates have seized over 40 vessels off Somalia's 1,880-mile (3,000-kilometer) coastline this year. Before the latest seizures, maritime officials say 14 remained in pirate hands - including a Saudi oil tanker carrying $100 million in crude and a Ukrainian ship loaded with tanks and heavy weapons. Also held are a total of more than 250 crew members.
Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the Vienna-based U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime on Tuesday urged law enforcement officers to deploy on warships as "ship riders" to seize pirates and try them in the arresting officer's home country.
"Pirates cannot be keelhauled or forced to walk the plank, nor should they be dumped off the Somali coast. They need to be brought to justice," he said.
A similar approach has helped prosecute drug traffickers in the Caribbean, he added.
Costa said countries in the region ? such as Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania and Yemen ? could sign special agreements empowering police officers to arrest pirates in the name of an officer's country, then escort them there to be charged and tried.
An official with the Yemen-based Total SA confirmed the latest hijacking, saying the seized tugboat had a crew of Indonesians and other nationalities and was on its way from the southern Yemeni port of Mukalla to Malaysia when it was seized.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.
In Paris, Total spokesman Kevin Church said that a tugboat and a barge were hijacked but stressed that they were not Total's boats. They belong to a subcontractor, he said, and are not believed to be carrying oil.
Kenya will increase patrols along its coastline
Kenya's military chief, Gen. Jeremiah Kianga, said Tuesday that his country will increase patrols along its coastline because piracy off neighboring Somalia has made business at Kenya's main port more expensive.
Kenya's air force and navy will patrol only Kenyan territory and not enter Somali air space or waters, Kianga said.
"Regional cooperation is essential," Costa said. "A few years ago, piracy was a threat to the Straits of Malacca. By working together, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand managed to cut the number of attacks by more than half since 2004."
Costa also urged authorities to crack down on the Somali pirates' coastal bases, support networks and financial transactions.
"Somali pirates are in it for the money, so we should try to capture their treasure," Costa said. "Unlike buccaneers of old, Somali mafias are not burying their booty in the sand... Pirates are increasingly working through intermediaries in financial centers. This is where we need to hit them."
The U.N. agency also urged shipping and insurance companies not to pay ransom, which Costa contends just encourages pirates to take hostages.