Posts tagged piracy
Posts tagged piracy
EU parliament throws out anti-piracy pact
The European Parliament rejected by a wide majority the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), an international copyright deal which, critics say, threatened internet freedom.
Only 39 lawmakers voted in favour of ACTA on Wednesday; 478 rejected it, while 165 abstained, killing off the EU ratification process. This might give an incentive to other signatories to also walk out, forcing the renegotiation or the outright abandonment of the agreement.
The conservative European People’s Party (EPP), the largest group in the EU assembly, unsuccessfully tried to postpone the vote until the European Court of Justice (ECJ) delivers a verdict on whether ACTA really poses a risk to civil liberties.
“No emergency surgery, no transplant, no long period of recuperation is going to save ACTA: it is time to give it its last rites, it is time to allow its friends to mourn and for the rest of us to get on with our lives,” British socialist David Martin, who drafted parliament’s opinion on ACTA, said before the vote.
“Rejecting the ACTA flat out, without trying to address concrete concerns, after years of negotiating, does nothing to handle the serious threats to European jobs and enterprises ACTA intended to solve,” EPP member Christofer Fjellner complained afterwards.
By contrast, lawmakers from the Green group, which campaigned vigorously against the deal, waved banners saying “Hello Democracy, Goodbye ACTA.”
The agreement had been signed by Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States, as well as by the EU and its member states. It establishes global standards against counterfeit goods, non-licensed generic medicines and online piracy.
Pictured: The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement has yet to be ratified and has stirred controversy across the globe [Reuters]
EU forces mount first attack on Somali pirates’ onshore base
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — With an estimated 300 hostages currently in the hands of Somali pirates, the first attack on a pirate land base by the European Union’s anti-piracy force Tuesday was a delicate one: In all, several speedboats were destroyed as well as fuel and ammunition stores, alliance officials said.
No lives were lost in the attack on the base north of Haradheere, a major pirate stronghold, and no Somalis were injured, the EU said.
“We believe this action by the EU naval force will further increase the pressure on and disrupt pirates’ efforts to get out to sea to attack merchant shipping and dhows,” said the commander of the naval force Somalia, Rear Adm. Duncan Potts.
“The local Somali people and fishermen, many of whom have suffered so much because of piracy in the region, can be reassured that our focus was on known pirate supplies and will remain so in the future,” he said.
Potts added that no European forces landed on Somali soil during the operation, which he said was approved by Somalia’s U.N.-backed transitional federal government.
The attack marks a significant shift in anti-piracy operations and was designed to deny the pirates a haven on land, according to the naval force.
Somali pirates operating from the chaotic, lawless state have seized dozens of ships and hundreds of crew members in recent years, demanding multimillion-dollar ransoms to release vessels. They have attacked ships almost 2,000 miles from the shores of Somalia.
According to a report last year by the Colorado-based One Earth Future Foundation, Somali pirates attacked 237 ships in 2011 and hijacked 28. It estimated that Somali piracy cost $7 billion last year, including increased security, fuel and insurance, 80% of which was borne by the shipping industry.
The EU anti-piracy operation, established in 2008, involves about 1,500 military personnel, nine ships and five maritime patrol planes, policing an area seven times the size of France off the Horn of Africa. The area including the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and western Indian Ocean includes some of the world’s most important shipping routes.
One of the force’s main roles is to protect vessels carrying World Food Program humanitarian aid.
NATO and other countries also have ships patrolling the area.
Pictured: In 2010, a pirate keeps watch on the coastline near Hobyo in northeastern Somalia. A European naval force attacked supplies of Somali pirates on Tuesday. Credit: Mohamed Dahir / AFP/Getty Images
EU expands Somali pirate mission to include attacks on land bases
Ships to be authorised to target Somali pirates on shore and inland as well as at sea
The EU is to expand its seagoing anti-piracy mission to include the Somali coastline and waterways inside the country for the first time.
The expansion of the operation appears to herald a significant shift in strategy for a mission that has focused until now on stopping pirates at sea.
EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Friday did not specify what they meant by “coastal territory and internal waters,” but officials have said the new tactics could include using warships or helicopters to target pirate boats moored along the shore, as well as land vehicles used by the pirates.
The foreign ministers said the operation, which started in 2008, would be extended until at least the end of 2014. Somalia’s transitional government had accepted the EU’s offer for greater collaboration in the operation.
“Today’s decision will enable Operation Atalanta forces to work directly with the transitional federal government and other Somali entities to support their fight against piracy in the coastal areas,” the EU statement said.
The EU did not provide details about the areas that would now be open to its anti-piracy mission, but Somalia’s long coastline provides a haven for pirate gangs that target shipping off the east African coast.
Pirate attacks on international merchant shipping in the Indian Ocean and Red Sea have been declining in the past 12 months. Pirates captured 19 ships during the first quarter of 2011 and only six in the rest of the year. Officials say the trend has continued this year.
Pictured: A Somali pirate looks out to a cargo ship anchored off the shore where it was being held for ransom. Photograph: Mohamed Dahir/AFP/Getty Images
Two hostages of pirates killed in rescue mission off Somalia
Danish navy says it found two seriously injured hostages, who later died, when it intercepted hijacked cargo ship
Two hostages were killed as a Danish warship intercepted a cargo vessel that had been hijacked by pirates off Somalia’s coast, Denmark’s navy has said.
The Danish ship HDMS Absalon had been following the hijacked vessel for several days and tried to stop it when it started moving away from the coast on Monday, the navy said.
When the crew did not stop despite warning shots, the Danish forces opened fire, the navy spokesman Kenneth Nielsen said. The pirates surrendered and the Danes took control of the ship.
As they boarded the vessel, they found 17 suspected pirates and 18 hostages, Nielsen said. He declined to give their nationalities.
“Two of the hostages were found seriously injured and even with speedy assistance from Absalon’s doctor, their lives could not be saved,” the navy said in a statement.
It said it was not clear how the hostages were injured.
The HDMS Absalon joined Nato’s Ocean Shield anti-piracy force in November.
Pictured: The Danish ship HDMS Absalon is part of Nato’s anti-piracy force operating off Somalia. Photograph: Mohamed Dahir/AFP/Getty Images