FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thank you, Mr. President. We also thank the Secretary General for producing this informative report, as well as Under Secretary General O'Brien and Executive Director Fedotov for their briefings today. We believe that this report, prepared in conjunction with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) provides an excellent blueprint for moving forward on the piracy prosecution front. Among other things, the report provides a most useful and very comprehensive needs assessment with respect to ongoing efforts in various regional States - laying out clearly what the current state of play is in each venue and pinpointing specific measures that need to be taken in order to move to the operational phase.
Mr. President, even as piracy continues to present challenges off the coast of Somalia, we are cautiously optimistic about some of the findings of the Secretary General's report - including that the success rate of attacks decreased in 2011. As more nations implement the guidance provided by the International Maritime Organization-the industry-developed Best Management Practices (BMP) for Protection against Somalia-Based Piracy-and employ the use of privately contracted, armed security personnel (PCASP), we are hopeful that the numbers will continue to decrease.
However, we remain extremely concerned by reports that the geographical expanse of pirate operations is intruding into the Southern Red Sea and extending as far as the Eastern Indian Ocean. In addition to the human toll associated with piracy, the economic costs of dealing with the piracy threat are staggering. These grim statistics reinforce the need, as one part of the solution to the piracy problem, to establish specialized anti-piracy courts and increase the capacity to conduct prosecutions.
We note that an ultimate goal in this regard is enhancing Somali responsibility and active involvement in efforts to prosecute and incarcerate suspected pirates. As one aspect of this, we stress the importance of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia enacting anti-piracy legislation by May 18, as called for in the Roadmap to End the Transition, and the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP) passing appropriate counter-piracy legislation before the end of the transitional period in August.
We applaud the tremendous amount of work already underway by UNODC, UNDP, and others to assist Somalia and regional states in conducting piracy prosecutions and are very encouraged by the projection that, with assistance, states in the region could collectively increase the number of piracy prosecutions per year by 125 - involving up to 1,250 suspects - in accordance with international standards. This includes, as appropriate, prosecution of planners, facilitators, and financiers of piracy attacks. We thank, among others, the Government of the Seychelles for its indication of willingness to host a regional prosecution center contingent on the establishment of an effective, post-trial transfer framework, and look forward to the opening this year of its Regional Anti Piracy Prosecution and Intelligence Coordination Center.
We also acknowledge UNSCR 2020 and its commendation of INTERPOL for the creation of a global piracy database designed to consolidate information about piracy off the coast of Somalia and facilitate the development of actionable analysis for law enforcement. We urge all States to share such information with INTERPOL for use in the database, through appropriate channels.
We recognize that any increase in prosecution capacity in the region necessarily will require an increase in prison capacity. In this regard, we support the continuing efforts of Somali authorities, UNODC, UNDP, and other international partners in supporting the construction and responsible operation of suitable and sufficient prisons in Somalia and elsewhere in the region.
The United States, for its part, will continue to aggressively prosecute suspected pirates in cases with a U.S. nexus. We have in custody a total of 28 Somalis in various stages of prosecution or incarceration in five cases of attacks on American citizens or American interests.
We believe that the Secretary General's report demonstrates that the experts of UNODC, UNDP, the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, and other players understand clearly the problems and needs with respect to piracy prosecutions in the region, and how best to address those needs. That is why contributions to the Trust Fund to Support Initiatives of States Countering Piracy off the Coast of Somalia are so vitally important - to permit timely implementation by UNODC, UNDP, and others of as many of the specific steps called for in the Secretary General's report as possible. The United States contributes regularly to this Trust Fund and is confident that projects that it funds are making a real difference in building capacity related to the rule of law in the region and specifically to countering piracy.
We also recognize the importance to the Seychelles and other regional states' efforts of international assistance in the form of provision of personnel, as called for in the report. We are studying ways in which we can contribute materially to the joint UK-Seychelles proposed Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecution Intelligence and Information Center to be located in Victoria and believe this center will make a material contribution to the international effort to disrupt the piracy enterprise ashore.
Finally, we endorse the report's suggestion that, as a logical next step, an assessment be conducted - with the assistance of States active in naval operations -- to help determine the numbers of piracy incidents where suspects are apprehended and released, as well as the reasons underlying these releases. As the report notes, this will assist both in sharpening of counter-piracy strategy and the determination of likely anticipated demand for prosecution capacity in the region for the foreseeable future.
I thank you, Mr. President.
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