The New Times (Kigali)

16 November 2012

East Africa: UN Anti-Crime Chief Begins Regional Tour

The Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, on Thursday began a 10-day counter-piracy mission to East Africa.

A statement issued in Nairobi said Fedotov is expected to visit Seychelles, Kenya, Puntland (Somalia) and Mauritius to discuss the piracy issue with Heads of State and ministers, counter-piracy and organised crime experts, and UNODC staff in the region.

"Fedotov will see, at first hand, piracy's impact and UNODC's response under its counter-piracy programme," the UN said in a statement released in Nairobi.

It said Fedotov will see how the reduced number of successful piracy attacks can be consolidated and how Somalia can he helped to address this issue through its own criminal justice response.

Piracy is a complex challenge to the safety and security of weak and fragile economies in the East African region.

Based on UNODC's information, maritime pirates received between US$28m- US$33m in ransoms in 2012.

The cost of a single ransom is around US$5m, although it may be as much as US$10m.

Regional analysts have stressed the need to make piracy and robbery off the Somali coast costly by addressing impunity and building the capacity of the Somali Government to expand its authority and deal with law and order.

They note that, while naval patrols off Somalia's coast have increasingly disrupted the activities of pirates, with many sea bandits arrested and prosecuted, the increased levels of violence employed by the pirates as well as their expanding reach is disconcerting.

The pirates operate not just off the coast of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden, but deep into the Indian Ocean and as far south as Mozambique and Madagascar.

UNODC's counter-piracy programme, which was established in 2009, is working towards ensuring fair and efficient trials and imprisonment of piracy suspects in regional countries; humane and secure imprisonment in Somalia; and fair and efficient trials in Somalia.

Analysts say the continuing acts of piracy in Somalia are a result of the political turmoil in the Horn of African nation.

In Kenya, UNODC has helped train 123 staff member of the Ministry of Medical Services on how to rehabilitate drug addicts has also trained 43 outreach workers to offer counselling to drug addicts and trained eight Kenyans as national trainers on rehabilitating drug addicts.

Xinhua

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