[dehai-news] (AFP) Nine countries sign deal to fight Somali piracy

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From: Biniam Tekle (biniamt@dehai.org)
Date: Thu Jan 29 2009 - 15:35:52 EST

Nine countries sign deal to fight Somali piracy

Jan 29, 2009 - 4 hours ago

DJIBOUTI (AFP) Nine countries from the region most affected by Somali
piracy on Thursday signed a deal enhancing cooperation in the fight against
piracy in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden.

A code of conduct was signed by eight coastal nations as well as Ethiopia
during a special meeting convened in Djibouti under the auspices of the
International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

"This Djibouti code of conduct is the first regional agreement between Arab
and African countries against acts of piracy against ships in the Gulf of
Aden, the Red Sea and the western Indian Ocean," Koji Sekimizu, head of the
IMO's maritime safety division, told an AFP reporter at the meeting.

The document provides for the creation of three information centres in
Mombasa, Dar es Salaam and Sanaa and a training centre for anti-piracy units
in Djibouti.

"We now have an efficient mechanism to fight against piracy. The text of the
code has been accepted by concensus. The IMO is ready to help the member
states to implement this agreement," Sekimizu added.

The nine signatories are Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, the
Maldives, the Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania and Yemen.

The code of conduct says coastal states should make the necessary changes in
their legislations to facilitate the arrest and prosecution of piracy

The fate of Somali pirates arrested by warships patrolling the area -- most
of which were dispatched by Western navies -- has been a sensitive issue.

Some observers describe the drive by the United Nations and other key
players to legalise the transfer of Somali pirates by foreign navies to a
court in a coastal country as a "rendition programme with a UN stamp".

The meeting however failed to reach an agreement on allowing foreign navies
to engage in hot pursuit in Somali territorial waters.

"It is a very serious issue under international law and sovereignty. There
is a principle that each ship pursuing a pirate has to ask for the
permission of the concerned state to enter its waters. We have decided to
stay on this principle," Sekimizu explained.

Chantal Poirier, France's special ambassador on anti-piracy issues, said
during the meeting's closing session she had hoped "for a more binding

Around 140 foreign vessels were attacked by Somali pirates in 2008,
threatening to disrupt world trade and making Somalia's waters the world's
most dangerous.

The growing scourge spurred Western powers into dispatching several warships
to the region but pirates have proved to be undeterred and continued their

A German gas tanker was seized by pirates in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday
despite being under navy escort.

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