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Unpublished Paper
Prepublication Version: Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia: The Argument for Pirate Prosecutions in the National Courts of Kenya, the Seychelles, and Mauritius
ExpressO (2012)
  • Milena Sterio, Cleveland State University
In December 2011, I traveled to the Seychelles, a tiny Indian Ocean nation half way between East Africa and India. In Victoria, the capital city, I, along with two other experts, met with the Seychelles’ Attorney General and two Supreme Court justices. Our meetings focused on Somali piracy: the Seychelles has recently concluded Memoranda of Understandings with several maritime nations, pursuant to which captured pirates will be transferred to the Seychelles for prosecution in Seychellois national courts. It was our task in the Seychelles to explore ways of future cooperation and assistance which we will be able to provide to the Seychelles’ prosecutors in their ongoing prosecutions of Somali pirates. In the wake of my visit, I am persuaded that national prosecutions of Somali pirates in the courts of stable regional partners, such as the Seychelles, is the correct way forward in the global fight against piracy. Because of various problems which I explore in this paper, it remains uncertain whether the international community can rely solely on Kenya for large-scale piracy prosecutions in the Kenyan courts. Kenya had been the first identified regional partner willing and capable of prosecuting Somali pirates. While Kenya may continue to serve in its role as a powerful anti-piracy ally, the time has come to turn to additional partners, like the Seychelles and other Indian Ocean nations, like Mauritius. This paper will focus on a possible solution of increased reliance on regional partners in the fight against piracy. This paper will identify three such regional partners, Kenya, the Seychelles, and Mauritius, and will propose useful ways in which these countries could participate in the global fight against Somali piracy. In the absence of an international piracy court and in the face of major maritime nations’ unwillingness to participate in the prosecution of pirates on a large scale, the use of Kenyan, Seychellois and Mauritian courts may be the best tool in combatting Somali pirates. This paper will address various legal issues associated with piracy prosecutions by first exploring the reasons for the proliferation of pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia in the 21st century (II), before turning to an analysis of international law on piracy (III) and focusing on finding solutions for the future (IV). Finally, this paper will make recommendations toward the purpose of facilitating piracy prosecutions in national courts. National legislatures of piracy prosecuting countries need to review and possibly revise the offense of piracy in their respective penal laws, in order to be able to prosecute the broadest spectrum of offenders. If national prosecutions are the way forward, they ought to be fair and balanced, but also aggressive in terms of laws that they use and the individuals that they charge. Large-scale and broad-based piracy prosecutions in national courts of stable regional partners may constitute the best legal tool in combatting Somali piracy. This paper will also recommend that major maritime nations re-explore the option of establishing a permanent international piracy tribunal, which could prove as the best long-standing venue for the prosecution of all pirates. Any international piracy chamber could co-exist alongside successful national prosecutions of Somali, or other, pirates.
  • International Law,
  • Maritime Piracy,
  • Somalia
Publication Date
Citation Information
Milena Sterio. "Prepublication Version: Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia: The Argument for Pirate Prosecutions in the National Courts of Kenya, the Seychelles, and Mauritius" ExpressO (2012)
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