Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Somalia News Update: Russia Proposes New United Nations Court for Pirates

Russia proposes new UN court for Somali pirates

The Associated Press
Updated: April 27, 2010, 11:40 am

Russia has proposed a new court for prosecuting Somali pirates under the auspices of the United Nations.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a Russian proposal Tuesday asking Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to look into how such a regional or international tribunal might be set up and to report back within three months.

The move comes in reaction to Kenya's recent decision to stop prosecuting suspected Somali pirates because of the strain on the country's justice system.

Somali pirates accounted for over half of last year's more than 400 piracy attacks around the horn of Africa.

U.S. charges 11 Somalis with piracy in ship attacks

By James Vicini
Friday, April 23, 2010; 12:55 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Eleven suspected pirates from Somalia have been brought to the United States to face piracy and other charges for attacks on two U.S. Navy ships off the coast of Africa, the Justice Department said on Friday.

It said the suspects were scheduled to appear on Friday in federal court in Norfolk, Virginia. The 11 men had been held on U.S. ships for weeks off Somalia's coast as U.S. officials decided what to do with them.

Five defendants were captured after the March 31 attack in which the Navy frigate, the USS Nicholas, exchanged fire with a suspected pirate vessel in the Indian Ocean west of the Seychelles, sinking a skiff and confiscating its mother ship.

Two of the accused pirates opened fire at night on what they believed to be a merchant ship, but it actually was the Navy vessel, according to U.S. court documents filed in the case.

In the other incident, six defendants were charged with the April 10 attack on another Navy vessel, the USS Ashland, in the Gulf of Aden. They allegedly opened fire on the vessel with small arms from their boat.

In addition to piracy, the criminal charges included attacks to plunder a vessel, assault with a dangerous weapon, and use of a firearm during a crime of violence.

If convicted of piracy, the suspects face a mandatory sentence of life in prison, a Justice Department spokesman said.

It was not the first time an accused Somali pirate has been sent to the United States to face criminal charges.

Last year, a teenager from Somalia was extradited to New York to face charges he attempted to hijack a U.S. ship in the Indian Ocean.

Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, the sole surviving accused pirate from the foiled bid to hijack U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama in April 2009, has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

Pirates operating off the coast of Somalia have stepped up hijacking attacks on vessels in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden in recent months, making tens of millions of dollars in ransoms by seizing ships, including tankers, despite the presence of dozens of foreign naval vessels.

On any given day, between 30 and 40 international ships are involved in anti-piracy efforts in the Somali basin and the western Indian Ocean. That includes five to 10 American vessels, a top U.S. Navy admiral has said.

(Editing by David Alexander and Stacey Joyce)

10-nation board okays funds to fight Somalia piracy

(AFP) UNITED NATIONS — A 10-nation board approved Friday 2.1 million dollars in UN funding for five projects to help Somalia and neighboring countries prosecute suspected pirates.

"Piracy off Somalia is a menace to the region and the world," said UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe, chair of the board overseeing a new trust fund. "Prosecuting suspected pirates is an important piece of the international strategy to combat the problem."

An international armada of warships has patrolled an area in the north of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden for more than a year in a bid to curb piracy.

But countries that have captured pirates have often struggled to bring them to justice due to legal technicalities.

Four of the projects in line for the funding are designed to support institutions in the Seychelles, which along with Kenya serves as a regional center to prosecute pirates, as well as in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland state and its breakaway region of Somaliland.

They will specifically deal with mentoring prosecutors and police, building and rehabilitating prisons, reviewing domestic legislation on piracy and enhancing court capacity.

A media project will help local partners design and spread anti-piracy messages across Somalia.

The trust fund was launched in January by a Contact Group on piracy off Somalia.

Its supervising board includes 10 voting members: Djibouti, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Kenya, the Marshall Islands, Norway, Somalia and the United States.

There are also three non-voting UN bodies: the International Maritime Organization, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the UN country team for Somalia.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council was expected to approve next week a Russian draft resolution urging a stronger UN mechanism to ensure effective legal action against pirates caught off Somalia's shores.

The text would direct UN chief Ban Ki-moon "within three months to prepare a report outlining various options of a stronger international legal system" to deal with the pirates.

Somalia has had no effective central authority since former president Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991, setting off a bloody cycle of clashes between rival factions.

Somalia: Top UN delegation arrives in Somalia

Mogadishu: Somalia
Apr 26, 2010
Mohammed Omar Hussein

A delegation from 5 United Nations bodies for instance the United Nations Development Programme the World Food Programme the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and World Health Organization has on Monday at exactly 10:15am local time landed at Adan Abdulle Osman international airport in Mogadishu.

At the airport the United Nations officials were received by some Ministers in the Somali government including Mohamoud Abdi Ibrahim the Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Abdurrahman Abdi Shakur the Minister for planning and International corporation Mohammed Abdullahi Omaar the Minster for Culture and Higher Education the Mohammed AliMohammed Ali Hage the acting Minister for the Ministry of Health and lastly but not the leas is Professor Abdullahi Sheikh (Qalocow) the state Minister for Planning and International corporation whom they were intending to exchange views over the humanitarian situation on the ground.

The UN officials chaired by Mark BowdenMark Bowden RC/HC of the UNDP and the Somali government Ministers sat down in a hall where there were comfortable chairs and an oval shaped table where they had crucial discussion over the humanitarian situation in Somalia.

The welcoming point of the bilateral talk was taken by Dr. Mohamoud Abdi Ibrahim the Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Resettlement in the Somali transitional federal government.

And later to Mark Bowden of the UNDP, then to Bruno Geddo of the UNHCR, then to Salman Omer of WFP, then to a lady who was representing WHO.

After the UN officials have submitted their short and long term plans towards Somalia the Somali Ministers as well delivered their prospective in the development of the war torn country Somalia, and eventually both sides have put place together everything discussed upon of which the Humanitarian situation was the backbone.

Instantly after the meeting was the United Nations officials have taken off back to Nairobi the Kenyan capital where they have previously arrived from.

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