Saturday, May 19, 2012
PORT LOUIS (Reuters) - Mauritius said on Friday it has agreed to prosecute Somali pirates, helping overcome one of the hurdles to cracking down on the wave of piracy that has hit international shipping.
The island nation said it had reached agreement with Somalia, and the semi-autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland, to accept suspected pirates for prosecution and trial starting in June.
Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam said his Indian Ocean countryneeded to play a more active role in fighting piracy, given its impact on security, fishing and tourism.
International navies trying to counter piracy off Somalia are often reluctant to take suspects to their own countries because they either lack the jurisdiction to put them on trial, or fear the pirates may seek asylum.
Suspected pirates captured by navies escorting vessels through dangerous waters often are released after only brief detention due to governments' reluctance to bring them to trial.
Mauritius is one of several countries in east Africa and the Indian Ocean region conducting trials, or intending to try pirates, because Somalia lacks the legal infrastructure.
The island state said it was making arrangements to accept one or two batches of suspected pirates in June, but did not say how many.
Mauritius secured 3 million euros ($3.82 million)in July from the EuropeanUnion for the trial and detention of piracy suspects.
Rampant piracy off the coast of Somalia has made it the world's most dangerous shipping lane and earned Somali sea bandits tens of millions of dollars in ransoms while pushing up insurance premiums for ships.
Kenya so far has borne the brunt of prosecuting sea bandits seized by foreign navies patrolling the Gulf of Aden's busy shipping lanes that link Europe with Africa and Asia. ($1 = 0.7860 euros)