23 November 2012

East Africa: Isolating Ringleaders and Financiers Vital to Combating Piracy - UN Official

It is vital to isolate the ringleaders and financiers of piracy to effectively combat this scourge, the head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said, as he ended a 10-day mission to East Africa.

During the visit to Seychelles, Kenya, Somalia and Mauritius, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov discussed counter-piracy efforts with national leaders, local counter-piracy and organized crime experts, and inspected prisons and a training academy.

"If we are to counter piracy, we must break-up the criminal groups, identify and isolate the ringleaders and financiers, and disrupt their cash shipments through coordinated police and border work. UNODC's role is to support the criminal justice chain," said Mr. Fedotov.

"We also recognize that there is no piracy without pirates," he added in a news release. "As a result, downstream, we need strong advocacy from community leaders and others in Somalia to prevent young men hijacking ships."

The number of pirate attacks around the world had been either stabilizing or falling in past years, before skyrocketing in 2008-2009, with the increase due almost entirely to the dramatic increase of piracy off Somalia.

Mr. Fedotov's mission sought to gain insights into the complex nature of piracy and its impact on the countries of East Africa, as well as look at UNODC's response to the way piracy undermines local economies and sends illicit funds flowing into other crimes.

While in Mauritius, the last stop on his visit, the Executive Director thanked the President, Kailash Purryag, for his country's commitment to countering piracy and expressed the hope that piracy suspects would be prosecuted in Mauritian courts. He also stressed the importance of countries in the region sharing the burden of prosecuting and detaining convicted pirates.

UNODC has formed a strong partnership with the Government of Mauritius in promoting learning exchanges among prosecutors, providing - in collaboration with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) - training in the analysis of intelligence arising from piracy cases in the country.

The mission to East Africa is part of UNODC's $55 million counter-piracy programme, which works to support Kenya, Seychelles, Mauritius, Tanzania, Maldives and Somalia tackle piracy and, including to detain and prosecute piracy suspects in accordance with human rights and the rule of law.

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