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Friday, January 23, 2009

Somali Pirates: Legal Pact for Trials Near?

One of several international legal stumbling blocks in thwarting Somali pirates has been a lack of an agreed place to hold trials and to imprison captured pirates. Now, it may be that an agreement to end that impasse is near, according to this:
Captured Somali pirates could soon face trials and serve jail sentences outside their homeland under a pact being negotiated between American officials and regional allies, the head of a new U.S. anti-piracy task force said Friday.

The lack of an international framework to bring pirates to justice is among the many frustrations for naval forces struggling to curb rising attacks on merchant vessels off lawless Somalia, where pirates launched more than 100 assaults on ships last year and took away millions of dollars in ransom.

Rear Adm. Terence McKnight told The Associated Press an accord could be reached within weeks to clear the way for piracy trials and imprisonment in countries "in the region." He declined, however, to name the nations possibly willing to hold the trials.

"We're working with a couple of countries that have helped ... out before," McKnight said in a telephone interview from the USS San Antonio, which began anti-piracy patrols last week along with another U.S. warship.
It is a step in the right direction.

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