Abbott Clay & Reed

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Piracy Today: A Crime without Punishment?

In Uncategorized on April 26, 2009 at 5:17 AM

Though our world has evolved remarkably since the days of swashbuckling sea captains, we still see piracy occurring. And, although we are in the age of technology, the piracy that we are referring to has nothing to do with copyright violation. Back are the days of pirate ships. Back are the days of feeling as if one must constantly scan the waters around them to be prepared and more aware of an impending attack.

Yes, today, pirates still exist. Quite honestly, they probably never ceased to exist; we just didn’t hear that much about them because pirate attacks were so rare. However, within the past year, more than 80 boats have fallen victim to pirates. In fact, it is estimated that pirates have at least 20 boats and somewhere in the vicinity of 300 hostages currently in their possession. The attacks are only increasing in number and, unfortunately, it seems as if there is little that can be done about the situation.

The majority of these pirates are from Somalia, a lawless country since 1991. Many of the attacks occur within the waters of the Gulf of Aden, a popular through route just off the coast of Somalia. The Somalian pirates believe that they have good reason to commit these acts, which, in any other country, would be considered criminal. Their pirating activities began sometime in the early 1990’s, after the fall of the Somalian Government. It is believed to have started when fishing vessels from other countries began illegally fishing the waters off the coast of Somalia. In an attempt to get back some of the income that was lost when these vessels depleted the Somalian waters of fish and lobster, Somalian fisherman began hijacking foreign vessels and holding the boats and crew members for ransom. Because the ransom is almost always paid, these pirates continue their attacks.

Unfortunately, though mounting concern of many countries exists and measures are being put into place to curb these instances, little has changed in the way of prosecution. NATO currently has no policy for detainment of these individuals. In short, many of the countries affected by this pirating are saddled with the burden of prosecution. And, many times, do not even have that opportunity available to them.

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