Special Report – In the first week of August 2020, Kenyan Minister of Defense Monica Juma and Chair of the Somali Coast Guard Liaison Group criticised Somalia (Puntland and Somaliland) for releasing pirates yet to finished their sentences. Kenya was elected on June 20, 2019 to chair the Piracy Contact Group for 2 years from January 2020 to December 2021.
Although a United Nations report says that between October 1, 2018 and October 31, 2019 there were no reports of ships hijacked off the coast of Somalia and the release of 23 hostages, Kenya is campaigning to expand the team’s mission with less obvious objectives since piracy has declined enormously.
But what is clear is that Kenya will not miss any opportunity to weaken Somalia’s progress. Of course, it is trying to take advantage of the membership of the Security Council and the Piracy Contact Group to continue its offensive diplomatically.
Since 2018 piracy in the Horn of Africa has reached almost zero compared to the situation in West Africa where today there are more than 20 times more piracy incidents than in Somalia. (BBC. Rality Check 19.06.2019).
In 2010 an informal approach to tackling piracy challenges was decided to establish an international fund run by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the UNODC. Five years later, the level of piracy activity appears to have declined, although the problem has not been addressed in Somalia, with industrial waste dumping off the coast and foreign boats fishing illegally in its waters.
However, the work of the Piracy Contact Team is part of what has made it easier to control piracy. Nevertheless, it has affected large numbers of migrants and poor fishermen, who are being held for unrelated crimes and imprisoned in Kenya, Mauritius, Seychelles, etc., some of whom have been sentenced to 30 to 50 years.
Concerns are being raised about abuses in foreign countries outside of Somalia, which are unfamiliar with Somali culture and have no sympathy for the accused. Prior to 2019, these countries were allocated $ 5 million a year to support the countries’ efforts to cover the costs of policing, prosecutors, courts and prisons.
In an interview with BBC News, Charles Brown, one of the two lawyers hired by the Seychelles to prosecute piracy suspects, said ”it is clear that they (Seychelles police) have no idea about the culture of Somali fishermen and the situation in their country.”
His lawyers argued five suspects charged with piracy had told stories that show there is no evidence to the actions their did was illegal. But the judge ordered that the final case in the Seychelles Court be heard until the end, rejecting the plaintiff’s written motion that “no case be answered” (Oceanuslive.org 10/06/2016).
Somalis are nomadic people and fishing is a new way of life. The country did not have ice machines long ago. Also, small fishing boats do not have the capacity to carry ice in the freezer. In addition, the offenses charged include simply for fishing nearby being misinterpreted as intention of ”hijacking of a fishing vessel” in their own Somali waters. (EUNAVFOR.EU 7/06/2019).
While piracy off the coast of Somalia has been denied, foreign vessels fishing illegally in Somali waters are attacking Somali fishermen in retaliation for coming bear local vessels (Thinkearth 04/12/2019).
Sometimes illiterate defendants are forced to waive their right to appeal without access to a qualified foreign language interpreter. Local courts prosecute offenders and the United Nations has no right to any violation of humanitarian and long perpetuated by people who do not have long-term government defends.
Meanwhile, efforts to change the perception of piracy and build the legal capacity of the Federal and State courts have significantly contributed to improving the country’s coastal situation. Nine out of ten incidents of piracy and ransom hijacking off the coast of Africa take place in the Western Gulf of Guinea (DW 14/02/2020).
Ms. Monica Juma’s call goes directly or indirectly to oil companies interested in bidding for oil exploration contracts off the coast of Somalia. Nairobi is letting the oil world, which wants to invest in the country, feel that Somalis are not independent in their territory, especially in the Indian Ocean. Kenya’s land policy is a violation of Somalia’s sovereignty and cannot be tolerated.
Although illegal fishing is an international crime and Somalia loses hundreds of millions of dollars annually, it does not appear that the UN or any of the developed countries will contribute significantly in the near future to rebuilding the Federal Government’s capacity to find an administrative structure that protects against the depletion of illegal fishing.
The UN Security Council should take into account that there are hundreds of sites where extremist boats can land. That obliges the Somali government to help protect its coast, to keep the region and the world safe.