80% of Pirates Freed

Fewer than one in every five suspects picked up around the Horn of Africa over the past four years have been prosecuted for piracy-related offences. The figures place doubt on Britain’s involvement in the anti-piracy operation.

Navy frees four out of five suspected Somali pirates

Britain criticised for ‘particularly poor record’ in international crackdown on Indian Ocean piracy

By Brian Brady, The Independent

Hundreds of suspected pirates arrested by the Royal Navy off the coast of East Africa have been immediately set free – to continue threatening merchant vessels in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. Fewer than one in every five suspects picked up around the Horn of Africa over the past four years have been prosecuted for piracy-related offences, the Ministry of Defence has admitted. The figures will fuel growing criticism of Britain’s involvement in the anti-piracy operation.

Official MoD figures obtained by The Independent on Sunday show the Royal Navy has boarded 34 vessels suspected of piracy in the Indian Ocean since volunteering to lead Operation Atalanta, the EU’s first naval mission, in 2008. However, on all but six occasions, the gangs rounded up were taken to the nearest beach and released – despite often being caught with equipment including guns and ladders. A list of boardings since November 2008 shows that the navy has detained a total of 279 likely pirates but allowed 229 of them to go free, some in groups of up to 17 at a time. Fifty more were sent on for prosecution in Kenya, the Seychelles or Italy.

The Government has acknowledged the “catch and release” strategy is often an “unsatisfactory outcome”, although ministers also maintain it helps to disrupt pirate networks.

But the shipping industry also condemned the Government’s failure to prosecute pirates caught “red-handed” attempting to grab a slice of……….[access full article]

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