Seychelles’ anti-piracy efforts commended


The opening session of the meeting yesterday

They commended Seychelles’ efforts in the war against piracy, saying this is the first time they have met in an affected country.

This morning they are due to listen to a court case in which 11 suspected pirates will hear Supreme Court judge Duncan Gaswaga deliver his verdict, when many of the delegates will see suspected pirates for the first time.

The 80 members of the Working Group 2 of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) started their meeting at Le Meridien Barbarons Resort yesterday and will today also visit the Seychelles Coast Guard base.

Yesterday they discussed legal aspects of the use of private armed guards on ships under threat of pirate attacks.

 “Seychelles has the right laws, an effective coastguard, is prosecuting pirates and has an arrangement for the transfer of pirates back to Somalia, so this country is offering a very good example to the rest of the world. Seychelles is a role model,” Thomas Winkler, who chairs the CGPCS told reporters yesterday.

Seven earlier meetings of the group have been held in Copenhagen while the very first took place in Vienna in March 2009.

When opening the meeting in the presence of Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Paul Adam and members of the diplomatic corps, Home Affairs, Environment and Energy Minister Joel Morgan said Seychelles is a front line state in the fight against Somali piracy, which he said threatens our economy and therefore our very existence.

“We are dependent on fisheries and tourism, two branches of our economy which are directly negatively affected by the curse of Somali piracy. The latest attacks on tourists in Kenya leave us deeply troubled and serve to further strengthen our commitment to fight this curse,” said Minister Morgan.

Like Mr Winkler, he said the only long-term sustainable solution to Somali piracy is to be found on land in Somalia.

“Seychelles is committed to working closely with our Somali partners to contribute to ensuring a stable and secure Somalia. At the same time we have to be realistic. This is not something easily or quickly achieved.

“In the meantime, we as a responsible government have to protect our people, our fishermen and our visitors. As much as we applaud the newly adapted road-map and the commitment of the administrations in Somalia to counter piracy, it is the results that count.

“The Somali authorities have to also show, in action, that they are prepared to do what is necessary. Meanwhile, we will have to continue fighting back, as long as pirates keep operating from the shores of Somalia,” he said.

Mr Morgan said prosecution of suspected pirates is made difficult by the high number of suspects, the cost and challenges of post-conviction imprisonment, institutional costs and donor fatigue as well as
shortage of countries agreeing to prosecution using their national systems.

“Accordingly, there is room for the international community to double its effort to find a solution to these challenges.  Right now, some capturing states are conducting prosecution before their own courts or transferring the suspects to partners in the region for prosecution through different agreements.

“I would claim that the most acute challenge to prosecution is not the lack of courts. We have more than 1,000 pirates behind bars in 20 states and Seychelles and others are ready to increase the number of prosecutions in the region.

“We are, however, not ready to incarcerate hundreds of convicted Somali pirates in our prisons for many years to come. The main challenge today is therefore to ensure that convicted pirates are transferred to their homeland in Somalia for incarceration,” he said.

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