A U.S. court has sentenced two Somali pirates to life in prison without the prospect of parole for their role in high-jacking a private yacht off the Horn of Africa in February 2011 and killing the four Americans aboard.
Twelve other men were sentenced previously for their roles in the attack, which brought a heavy response from U.S. naval vessels responding to the crew’s distress signals. Prosecutors said the pirates were planning to take their hostages to Somalia for ransom when they were intercepted by the naval patrol, part of a multinational effort to protect vessels traveling through the area, one of the world’s busiest shipping corridors.
Thanks to operational coordination of these naval patrols, there have been no successful pirate attacks off the Horn so far this year.
As the court was handing down the sentences, more than 40 nations, international organizations and private companies met in Dijbouti to continue the campaign to safeguard commerce and delivery of humanitarian aid off the Somali coast and nearby waters.
Since it first met in January 2009, the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia has nearly tripled in size, to include such participants as the European Union, China, Russia and India, as well as the United States. Thanks to operational coordination of these naval patrols, there have been no successful pirate attacks off the Horn so far this year, where once the raiders operated with impunity. The effort demonstrates that a clear global consensus has emerged against piracy.
The Contact Group has contributed to the drop in pirate activity in other ways as well. Members partnered with the shipping industry to implement procedures that merchant ships and crews can take to avoid pirate attacks and counter them when they occur. They have advanced new initiatives to disrupt the pirate networks ashore bolstering law enforcement and targeting their financial networks. And they have strengthened the capacity of Somalia and other countries in the region to counter piracy.
The U.S. and its international partners are committed to working with the Somali government and its leaders to seize the opportunity to make progress toward greater security and stability.