Somalia should give solution to piracy problem: India

New York: India has said the solution to the problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia should come from institutions within Somalia, as it asked the African country to bring in a national anti-piracy legislation and for investigation and prosecution of suspected pirates.

"Piracy off the coast of Somalia is primarily a Somali problem and the solution should be Somali-owned and supported by the Somali institutions.

Any imposition of external solutions will not work in the long run," India`s deputy Permanent Representative Ambassador Manjeev Singh Puri said at the UN Security Council on the situation in Somalia yesterday.

He said during 2011, there were 286 attacks against ships in the waters off the coast of Somalia, of which 31 were successful.

As of December 20 last year, 13 ships were held by pirates, with a total of 265 hostages.

Puri said despite a reduction in the number of successful attacks, the total number of pirate attacks continues to be high and the geographic spread of pirate activities has expanded into the Red Sea, the Somali Basin and into the western Indian Ocean.

Pirates now cover a geographical area of roughly 2.8 million square miles and safety and security of seafarers remains a matter of very serious concern, he said.

"The solution to the problem of piracy in Somalia lies not on the sea, but on the land.

We also support the strengthening of the national and regional capacity in the drafting of national anti-piracy legislation, and towards the investigation, prosecution and sentencing of suspected pirates," he said. .

Referring to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon`s report on Somalia, Puri said Somali authorities continue to not favour establishment of a Somali court outside the territory of Somalia, preferring any assistance for new courts to be implemented within Somalia.

At the same time, Somalia also faces challenges in relation to level of training and qualifications of Somali judges, prosecutors and other legal professionals to tackle piracy-related legal cases.

In view of the continuing challenges facing the establishment of an extra-territorial Somali anti-piracy court, the possibility of developing a "regional prosecution centre" in places like the Seychelles can be discussed.

The purpose of the centre would be to act as a "focal point for regional and international support to the prosecution of piracy suspects, and to provide a location offering relative logistical ease for their transfer by naval forces".

Puri said the views of Somali authorities on this matter should be obtained and the UN Secretariat should work out the modalities of establishing such a focal point and its likely impact on the overall prosecution and punishment of pirates.

Puri added that the Secretary General has also suggested detailed implementation proposals for the specialised anti-piracy courts in Somalia, Tanzania, Seychelles, and Mauritius.

India supports the Secretary General`s view that an assessment with the assistance of the naval coalitions and other States active in naval operations, is necessary to help determine the numbers of piracy incidents where the suspects are apprehended but released, and the reasons underlying the releases.

Such information would enable the Security Council to consider the most effective measures required to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia, he added.