The United States has successfully partnered with more than 50 countries and international organizations to confront piracy in the waters off the Horn of Africa, but more needs to be done to bring pirates to justice, Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs Andrew J. Shapiro said today in a keynote address at a symposium on counter-piracy policy sponsored by the American University Law Review.
“Judicial capacity building in the region is not only a means to prosecute pirates but also has longer-term benefits for the broader judicial systems in these countries,” Shapiro said. “This is simultaneously an effort to effectively prosecute pirates, and therefore deter future acts of piracy, and to make a positive contribution toward strengthening the rule of law in the region.”
On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Easter Sunday rescue of the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama, Shapiro said that the promise of ransom money, combined with the perception of impunity for their criminal behavior, makes prosecutions essential to deterring piracy. Shapiro recognized the contributions to date from Kenya and the Seychelles in prosecuting suspected pirates and highlighted U.S. support for international initiatives to help other nations join in sharing the burden of holding, prosecuting, and incarcerating pirates.
In Kenya, the United States supports the robust efforts of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime to improve the capacity of these and other states in the region to prosecute suspected pirates. An American Resident Legal Advisor at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi is supporting Kenyan authorities in current pirate prosecutions, and nine U.S. military service members have testified in these prosecutions. Shapiro also highlighted the need for other nations join in sharing the burden of prosecuting suspected pirates and incarcerating those convicted. To assist, the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia has recently established a UN-administered Trust Fund to help defray the expenses of piracy prosecutions, among other counter-piracy initiatives.
The full text of Assistant Secretary Shapiro’s speech is available at http://www.state.gov/t/pm/rls/rm/139326.htm
To learn more about U.S. support for international efforts against piracy, visit www.state.gov/t/pm/ppa/piracy/index.htm