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Ongoing Campaign Against Piracy

Ongoing Campaign Against Piracy
Ongoing Campaign Against Piracy

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Now that the seas are seasonally calmer, pirates operating off the coast of east Africa have increased attacks on shipping in the region, making it one of the world's most dangerous waterways. While these attacks in the first 10 months of 2009 have already exceeded all of those in 2008, the number of successful attacks has gone down thanks to increased international naval efforts and precautions adopted by many commercial vessels.

Naval ships from the United States and nearly 30 other countries patrol a vast area to protect ships there, a key channel of maritime commerce. This concerted international effort is pushing the sea-going gangs farther into the Indian Ocean in order to seek more victims.

The U. S. is taking additional steps to end the scourge. In the words of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Political and Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro, the U.S. hopes to apply a 21st century approach to one of the world's oldest criminal enterprises.

U.S. officials have begun to work with other nations and international institutions to determine how to disrupt the flow of money that pirates receive in ransoms after freeing captive ships and their crews, as well as the funds supporting pirate operations. The goal is to disrupt the flow of money that enables piracy to occur and be profitable.

The U.S. is also urging countries and affected shipping companies to not pay ransoms. And shipping companies are also being encouraged to adopt internationally recognized best management practices for protecting their vessels against attack. Those practices have reduced the pirates’ success rate in seizing vessels.

Additionally, the U.S. is promoting and supporting efforts by nations victimized by piracy to try suspected pirates in their domestic courts. To aid prosecuting nations in defraying expenses of these potentially complex prosecutions, an international trust fund has been created to help pay for such services as translations and long-distance travel for witnesses. The effort is taking hold, as seen recently in the conviction of eight Somali pirates by a local court in Puntland. Kenya is currently prosecuting 11 cases against over 100 suspected pirates captured by various naval forces off the coast of Somalia.