Security Council to 'urgently consider' plans for specialized courts, prisons for Somali pirates, cites rise in violence off Somalia's coast - resolution 1976 (2011)

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Security Council 6512th Meeting (AM)

Underlining the importance of prosecuting suspected pirates operating off the coast of Somalia as armed robbery and other maritime violence continued unabated, the Security Council this morning decided to urgently consider the establishment of special Somali courts operating in the country, as well as the East African region.

According to resolution 1976 (2011), unanimously adopted today, the tribunals in question must be consistent with international human rights law and could include an “extraterritorial Somali specialized anti-piracy court”, as recommended in the report of Jack Lang, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Legal Issues Related to Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (document S/2011/30).

Introducing his report to the Council on 25 January (see Press Release SC/10164), Mr. Lang said that despite international naval cooperation — first authorized in Council resolution 1846 (2008) — piracy off Somalia was steadily worsening and that 90 per cent of pirates captured by national navies had to be released because jurisdictions were not prepared to prosecute them.

He concluded that “Somaliazation” of the anti-piracy process was necessary and he proposed setting up specialized jurisdictions and prisons in Puntland and Somaliland as well as a Somali court in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania, which would later be transferred to Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital.

In today’s resolution, the Council, expressing its intention to take further decisions on the matter, requested the Secretary-General to propose modalities for such specialized courts within two months and to describe the role of international personnel and other international support, taking into account the work of the Contact Group on Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia and in consultation with regional States.

Through the wide-ranging resolution, the Council also reiterated its support to ongoing efforts by States in the development of anti-piracy laws, courts and detention facilities and requested the Secretary-General to take measures to support regional States in those endeavors.

The Council urged both State and non-State actors affected by piracy, particularly the international shipping community, to provide support for such efforts through the related Trust Fund. It also called on States to cooperate, as appropriate, on the issue of hostage taking.

It also urged all States to criminalize piracy, as well as profiting from and organizing it, under their domestic law. Recognizing piracy as a crime subject to universal jurisdiction, it called on States to cooperate in the investigation of related criminal acts and to prosecute and imprison perpetrators on their territory when appropriate.

Recognizing as well that the ongoing instability in Somalia was an underlying cause of the problem of piracy, it stressed the need for a comprehensive response to tackle piracy and its underlying causes, including assistance to the Transitional Federal Government and regional authorities in Somalia in establishing governance, rule of law and sustainable economic growth, as well as supporting policing on land and coast-guard capabilities off the coast.

In that context, it also urged States to consider investigating allegations of illegal fishing and illegal dumping, including of toxic substances, with a view to prosecuting such offences when committed by persons under their jurisdiction. It invited States and regional organizations to continue supporting the development of national fisheries and port activities.

Following the adoption of the draft, the representative of the Russian Federation, Vitaly Churkin, thanked other Council members for their cooperation and contributions to developing the resolution, which, he noted, was an initiative of his delegation. “We’ve taken a big step in fighting piracy”, he said, adding that he looked forward to a thorough report from the Secretary-General and that his country was prepared to give all necessary support to the effort.

The meeting was opened at 10:10 a.m. and closed at 10:15 a.m.