The government of the Seychelles has agreed to try alleged Somali pirates. The will be the second centre, set up by the EU, for trials of sailors apprehended by the European Union Naval Force Somalia (EU NAV FOR). Kenya has already undertaken trials of alleged pirates with help from the EU.
The move coincides with signs that the pirates are being forced to operate further out into the Indian Ocean after the success of Operation Atalanta – the EU mandated force operated from Northwood in the UK – cleared the Gulf of Aden.
Trials have to take place in special centres – the first of which was in Kenya – because Somalia only has a transitional Government which does not have the capacity to provide fair trials in a safe environment.
A recent report by the House of Lords in the UK welcomed efforts of Kenya and the Seychelles to provide judicial remedy for those captured by the naval forces. Recommendations were also made that the insurance industry should reward safer behaviour by commercial shipping in the area and that the World Food Programme should use bigger, faster boats to mitigate the costs of protecting the food aid to Somalia.
In March, the trial of 11 pirates arrested by Seychelles’ coastguard, with the aid of EU NAVFOR, began, held under a recently-amended provision in the country’s criminal code allowing for piracy prosecution under universal jurisdiction.
Professional Somali interpreters, have been provided by the EU and UN Office on Drugs and Crime. The EU and UNODC have also established a mentorship programme at the only prison in the Seychelles, where suspected and convicted pirates are being held.
On March, 11 additional alleged pirates were transferred to Seychelles authorities’ custody after having been captured by the French Navy off the Somali coast. The House of Lords report noted that the authors looked forward to seeing the results of these trials.