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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Anti-Piracy Regional Agreement for Gulf of Aden and East Africa

Reported at Maritime Global Net:
A HIGH-level meeting of 17 States from the Western Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden and Red Sea areas, convened by IMO in Djibouti to help address the problem of piracy and armed robbery against ships off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, has adopted a Code of Conduct concerning the Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.

The Code of Conduct recognizes the extent of the problem of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the region. The counties involved have declared their intention to “co operate to the fullest possible extent, and in a manner consistent with international law, in the repression of piracy and armed robbery against ships, with a view towards sharing and reporting relevant information through a system of national focal points and information centres; interdicting ships suspected of engaging in acts of piracy or armed robbery against ships; ensuring that persons committing or attempting to commit acts of piracy or armed robbery against ships are apprehended and prosecuted; and facilitating proper care, treatment, and repatriation for seafarers, fishermen, other shipboard personnel and passengers subject to acts of piracy or armed robbery against ships, particularly those who have been subjected to violence”.

An IMO statement says that the participating countries intend to fully co-operate in the arrest, investigation and prosecution of persons who have committed piracy or are reasonably suspected of having committed piracy; seize suspect ships and the property on board such ships; and rescue ships, persons, and property subject to acts of piracy. These acts would be consistent with international law.

The Code also covers the possibilities of shared operations, such as nominating law enforcement or other authorized officials to embark in the patrol ships or aircraft of another signatory.
More info here:
“The adoption of this instrument shows that countries in the region are willing to act concertedly and together, contributing to the ongoing efforts of the broader international community to fight the scourge of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the area,” UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos said of the Code of Conduct adopted yesterday at a high-level meeting in Djibouti convened by his agency.

Nine countries – Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania and Yemen – have already signed the Code, which calls for shared operations, such as nominating law enforcement or other authorized officials to embark in the patrol ships or aircraft of another signatory.

The meeting was attended by ministers and senior officials from Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Yemen, as well as observers from other IMO members, UN specialized agencies and international and regional inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations. The Code is open for signature by the 21 countries in the region.

“Like the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against ships in Asia (RECAAP), which was concluded in November 2004 by 16 countries in Asia, I have every faith that the Code of Conduct will prove to be the starting point for successful cooperation and coordination in the region, which will bear fruit in the suppression of piracy and armed robbery against ships,” Mr. Mitropoulos said.

Representatives of States that have sent naval forces to protect shipping off Somalia, including China, France, Italy, Japan, Russia and United Kingdom, also attended the four-day meeting, as did the UN World Food Programme (WFP), whose chartered food aid ships have been hijacked on several occasions.

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