Piracy prevention operations should continue past 2014

22 August 2012

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22 August 2012 | Anna Reynolds

EU anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia must continue beyond 2014 if it is to make a lasting difference, according to peers.

Members of the House of Lords EU Committee for External Affairs warned if it does not carry on past December 2014, organisations and individuals that organise piracy will simply wait out the operation before returning to their previous activities.

A report, Turning the Tide on Piracy, Building Somalia’s Future, praised the success of Operation Atalanta in curbing piracy off the horn of Africa. Operation Atalanta was a military strategy launched by the EU in 2008 to protect Somalia-bound vessels and other shipments from acts of piracy and armed robbery. As a result, only eight vessels and 215 hostages were being held in June 2012 compared to 23 vessels and 501 hostages in the same month in 2011.

Lord Teverson, chairman of the Lords EU Committee for External Affairs, said: “As well as increasing the risk involved by improving detection and punishment of those engaged in piracy we also need viable alternatives for Somalis to provide for their families.

“Again the EU is making progress but it is important that aid is now focused on providing alternative forms of livelihood so people don’t resort to piracy.”

The International Maritime Bureau also recently reported pirate attacks had fallen significantly when compared with last year, thanks to international patrols and more use of private armed security.

Since a previous report in 2010, the committee now support the initiative of using armed guards, as evidence shows that no ship with an armed guard has been pirated and the use of guards has not escalated violence.

Concerns were also raised over the policy of transferring sentenced pirates back to Somalia for imprisonment and suggest there is a risk of breakouts. The Committee calls on the EU and UN to work together to monitor pirate prisons and ensure some efforts of rehabilitation.

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