Thank you Mr. President. And we join our colleagues in thanking Under Secretary General O’Brien for her thorough briefing this morning. The United States fully agrees with USG O'Brien and Special Advisor Jack Lang that to address piracy effectively, solutions must be found both on land and at sea, and there must be judicial consequences for those involved. In that regard, I’d like to thank the UN Office of the Legal Advisor for rapidly compiling this informative report that discusses the feasibility of specialized Somali counter-piracy courts, both in and outside Somalia, as well as providing valuable information on ongoing, enhanced prosecutorial efforts in other regional States.
The Secretary General’s report emphasizes the ongoing work of UNODC and UNDP towards establishing courts in Puntland and Somaliland, within existing authorities. We commend and support this important work. With UN assistance, trials in Somaliland and Puntland are expected to reach international standards, thus permitting transfer of suspects to Somalia for prosecution within three years. Significantly enhanced prison capacity, also to international standards, is expected in two years. We believe that building on the ongoing efforts in Somalia along these lines may be the most effective and efficient way to help meet the Lang report’s goal of a “Somalitization” of the anti-piracy effort.
Based on the report’s findings, it is clear to us that an extraterritorial Somali piracy court is not a viable option, due to opposition to the idea from Somalia itself and the host of constitutional, procedural, security, financial and logistical issues identified in the report. Somali authorities have been clear that they do not support this idea, as confirmed in the OLA report. In addition, the report makes clear that major amendments to the Somali constitution and even the TFG Charter would be required to provide a basic legal foundation for an extraterritorial court. We believe that such changes are not realistic, especially given the lack of support from Somalia for this objective among many competing priorities.
While long term efforts to improve judicial and prison capacity in Somalia are underway, we must address the urgent need to establish a reliable venue in the region for the prosecution of suspected pirates captured by international naval forces. The United States supports the establishment of a dedicated piracy chamber or court in one or more regional states, applying the national law of the state in which it sits. If the law of the host state allows, this dedicated court or chamber can be supplemented with international personnel, including foreign prosecutors and judges. With adequate international support, it could be established almost immediately in one of several states in the region that already has a robust piracy law in place.
In terms of next steps, Seychelles has offered to host a regional prosecution center, given sufficient prison capacity to imprison convicted pirates. We also welcome the confirmation in the OLA report that Tanzania is willing to host a dedicated piracy court in its territory. The international community should consult with any other regional state discussed in the report or that otherwise might come forward – to develop a plan to establish – in the very near term – a dedicated piracy court or chamber in the region.
As recognized in the Lang report, we must not forget that incarceration is perhaps the most significant constraint on piracy prosecutions. In this regard, the United States urges Puntland and Somaliland to pass any necessary prisoner transfer legislation and we agree that if the international community will invest in the construction and rehabilitation of prisons in these regions, convicted Somali pirates could be housed, humanely and securely, in such facilities.
Finally, the United States is committed to pursuing the means to disrupt the pirate enterprise ashore, including by tracking illicit financial flows in an effort to identify and prosecute the organizers and financiers of piracy. To this end, we are energetically supporting the leadership of Italy, South Korea, INTERPOL, UNODC, and other partners in this regard.
In conclusion, Mr. President, in cooperation with the international community, the United States plans to continue to actively address this issue of piracy as we seek to assist Somalis in bringing stability to their country. The roots of the piracy problem remain on land and, in this regard, the United States will continue to support the Djibouti Peace Process, the Transitional Federal Government, and the African Union Mission in Somalia to work toward greater stability, governance, and economic viability throughout Somalia.
Thank you Mr. President.
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