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August 2010

News Letter - 27th August 2010


With no piracy attacks to comment on in the past week as the weather conditions continue to hamper small boat operation and this should continue for the short-term I thought it might be interesting at this juncture to recap Resolution S/RES/1918 (2010), adopted unanimously by the Security Council on 27 April 2010 at the proposal of Russia, as a tentative step towards a comprehensive answer to the question of what to do with captured pirates. The resolution puts forward three propositions and I will attempt to briefly summarise these without losing too much content: always a challenge with lawyers and the IMO!

The first proposition consists of three elements:

  1. Piracy should be criminalised in the domestic legislation of all states. This would eliminate any problems arising from divided opinions of the status of piracy under public international law.

  2. States are encouraged to ‘favourably consider the prosecution’ of suspected pirates. While Kenya had until recently been willing to receive and prosecute suspected pirates, it has now ceased to do so because of the additional pressure caused to its justice system. That leaves the Seychelles, with a population of less than 90,000 and a justice system of commensurate capacity.

  3. Imprisonment of convicted pirates. There is no legal reason why the pirate has to serve his sentence in the country where he was convicted. Unfortunately, providing correctional facilities is notoriously expensive and it will be an uphill struggle to convince any state that it ought to provide board and lodging to prisoners for the long terms of imprisonment that may be expected. Indeed, only a small number of states have ever agreed to receive persons convicted by the international war crimes tribunals to allow them to serve their sentence. The Seychelles has stated that it is unable to accept any prisoners at all.

The second proposition pays tribute to the Djibouti Code of Conduct. This is a regional measure adopted in January 2009 which makes wide-ranging declarations of intent in respect of measures to tackle piracy on every front. Present at the meeting adopting the Code of Conduct were, besides the states of the region, also representatives of several international organisations.

The third proposition ‘requests the Secretary-General to present to the Security Council within 3 months a report on possible options to further the aim of prosecuting and imprisoning persons responsible for acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, including, in particular, options for creating special domestic chambers possibly with international components, a regional tribunal or an international tribunal and corresponding imprisonment arrangements’. So this should have happened at the time of this going to press. If any of our readers could enlighten us it would be much appreciated.

Ok so that’s the legal “niceties” explained at least a little. This all stems from an unwillingness to do what is necessary with captured pirates. Never mind prosecuting them “in a recognised judicial system and with appropriate rights of defence” and “incarcerating them for a reasonable amount of time both to set an example and to prevent reoffending” this won’t work and imposes an unfair and impractical burden on the States that undertake it. Regional states are either unwilling or unable to deal with this challenge. Western states, who are most likely to capture pirates through their naval operations, are reluctant to bring pirates back to Europe or America for costly prosecution, only to have them become an even costlier burden on the correctional system.

The UN in the form of IMO is not capable of taking any sensible action against these dangerous criminals. The resolution they pass are merely utterances from people who don’t care about the amount of seaman who are being incarcerated and killed but it make these people pontificating on the subject feel important – and what do they care – its only seamen being killed and incarcerated! The U.N. is a body who over the last fifty years has often sent forces personnel into conflict areas with only blue berets for protection, making the UN little better than a bunch of witch doctors expecting the fact that they have blue berets will stop bullets! Let’s grow up and stop ‘dancing around’ this problem.

Piracy has been around since man first went to sea trading goods and in the past it resulted in severe punishment for the perpetrators – and with good reason. If you don’t treat the perpetrators severely you will have an increase in piracy which will affect the ability of nations to trade. 150 years ago the Royal Navy being the most powerful mobile force then in the world, by far, were invited into  the A.G. area to control piracy. They did not come into the A.G. as conquerors but as policemen and they were successful. Why? Because they did not take prisoners of these criminals – they did the necessary!

The above regime may sound harsh but isn’t it harsher when these criminals hijack vessels and treat innocent seamen to uncertainties and sometimes even kill them. As usual in our inverted world, mainly created by ‘do gooders’ and politicians who are only interested in the path of least resistance and lining their own pockets, the innocent suffer whilst criminals ‘thumb their noses’ at the world. Such a situation just makes things worse because it encourages even more people to follow the criminal life into piracy. This is not the way to go if we are to eliminate piracy – but are Governments really interested and resolute in arresting this problem? By their present actions or lack of action it would seem that they only pay ‘lip service’ to the problem and all the while the lives of more seamen are at risk.

You need a deterrent and until the deterrent is made harsh enough piracy will continue. Let’s stop the talking and hit these criminals hard – and don’t tell me or the seamen who have been hijacked that deterrence doesn’t work?? Have you ever thought how we got peace (well a sort of peace!) in Northern Ireland after 35 years of war – think about it????

UAE BlackBerry Service

Having done some investigating into the proposed BlackBerry ban in the UAE we have learnt that the TRA has more demanding requirements than the regulators in Saudi or India demanded. TRA and RIM are still in discussions to resolve the situation but apparently it’s a really tough one. Meanwhile the telephone operators in the UAE are very busy trying getting alternative solutions ready.

If the ban goes ahead then even BlackBerry services from other countries will not work in UAE. We have learnt however that the device itself will still work. Accessing mail will still be possible although it is will involve downloading a new application that should emulate the BlackBerry email experience. BB Messenger will not work but alternatives are available. Getting your emails and reading the attachments using activesync will be no problem. Web browsing also will be fine. Hopefully the telephone companies in the UAE will come up with solutions where customers still use their BlackBerry handsets but will have to download a new application. If this fails to materialize then a new Smartphone will be required.

Perhaps it depends what you are used to. Those who have the use of an Enterprise Server may notice more limitations than those of us who do not.

If the ban does go ahead there will be options for you to continue doing business as you do now. As indicated above another app will be needed for email, contacts and calendar. Browsing will be via the standard web browser you already use on BB. For Instant Messaging, if you need it, you will have to use GTalk, Yahoo, FB etc.


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