Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The logisitcal nightmare of prosecuting pirates

In my last post, I talked about the comments of retired US Navy Rear-Admiral Terence McKnight, who was somewhat critical of the way that piracy off the Horn of Africa was being presented. In his talk at the US Navy Museum in Washington last week, McKnight also was quoted in Defence Professionals as saying that prosecuting detained pirate suspects is a "logistical nightmare".

He said that, "Since there is no competent government in the area of operation the pirates have to be transferred to courts that will accept jurisdiction. This requires transportation, jailing for the pirates, the gathering and securing of evidence, security escorts for the pirates and witnesses to testify in the trials, and so on."

There's an interesting piece related to this from the London Times that was posted today, by journalist Tristan McConnell reporting from Mombasa, Kenya. McConnell looks at a court case currently ongoing relating to an attack by suspected pirates on a vessel in late May of this year.

Based on my research, we should not rely on Kenya to be the judicial clearing-house for the successful prosecution of piracy convictions. The Somali system of rule of law must be reinforced, and the international community must fill the gap in the meantime. Dealing with "hostis humani generis" requires a transparent judicial system, and an international admiralty court is one option.

No comments: