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Wednesday, 23 June 2010

SOMALIA: Questions Abound about EU’s "Combating" of Piracy

Modern German justice had never handled a case of piracy until Jun 11, when 10 Somali seafarers, including children, were presented at a tribunal in the city port of Hamburg, some 300 km west from Berlin, on charges of robbing cargo in the Indian Ocean. The accused are the first Somali people to be prosecuted in Germany as part of Operation Atalanta, the European Union’s military surveillance of the Indian Ocean officially established "to help deter, prevent and repress acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia". According to the Hamburg prosecutor’s office, the Somali seafarers on Apr 5 attacked the German container ship Taipan. The EU claims that the operation's objectives are "the protection of vessels of the World Food Programme delivering food aid to displaced persons in Somalia, of vulnerable vessels cruising off the Somali coast, and the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast".  To that effect, since Dec 2008 EU war ships and planes and several hundred soldiers patrol the Indian Ocean to chase what the EU calls "Somali pirates".  However, critics of the operation suggest that its hidden mission is to protect European vessels accused by Somali seafarers and international organisations of another form of piracy: illegal fishing and the dumping of toxic waste, including radioactive material, in Somali waters.

Source: IPSnews.net