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Piracy off the Coast of Somalia

(New York, June 21, 2011)

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Néstor Osorio Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations 



Mr. President,

I would like to thank Ms. Patricia O'Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, who exposed in great detail the Report of the Secretary General on the modalities for the establishment of specialized Somali anti-piracy courts, to judge the Somali suspected pirates in both Somalia and the region.

Since our last session on Somalia, the situation has not changed, and we remain concerned about the increasing attacks, its geographical distribution, the increasing violence and the used force, as well as the high number of hostages that remain captive.

My delegation cosponsored Resolution 1976 because we considered that in it were established the essential elements to advance in the fight against crime in the medium term, in order to contribute to national capacity-building in Somalia to meet the obligations and responsibilities of authorities in the long term. Today, we remain convinced of the need to support and empower State institutions, recognizing its prime responsibility in the reestablishment of security, political stability, Rule-of-Law, and the economic development, as an investment of peace and lasting stability.

In its report, the Secretary-General notes that some of the assistance activities developed by the United Nations, in particular the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have moved towards achieving the objectives set in Resolutions 1950 and 1976. It is encouraging to hear that steps were taken towards the strengthening of the capacity of courts in Somaliland and Puntland to conduct piracy prosecutions, as well as other serious crimes, according to international standards. Progress related to the construction and reconstruction of prisons is also promising.

However, the Secretary General, realistically, feces us to the challenges posed by the persistent situation in the country and the high degree of impunity enjoyed by criminals. According to the Secretary-General, these elements must be addressed to ensure the proper functioning of regional and federal courts.

It is clear that the specialized offices of the Organization must continue to provide assistance in order to update and adapt the legislative basis, in the federal and the regional level, for piracy to be defined as a serious crime, and establish a criminal an dprocedural legisltive framework consonant with the requirements of due process.

As to the jurisdiction assigned to the courts, we believe that the aim should be to have broad jurisdiction, which can prosecute both in cases of low-level piracy as well as those accused of financing and facilitating it. While the latter are more complex cases which require more expertise and more time to be fully functional, it may have a greater impact on the prevention and suppression of crime.

We should give a central role in judge, lawyers and other related professions training, and give the required time for them have the capacity to conduct research and trials in accordance with international standards.

Considering the issue of establishing a specialized extraterrirorial Somali court, we highlight that the Transitional Federal Government and the regional governments consulted opposed its establishment, since it may diverse the resources and capacity building efforts. On this matter, my delegation asserts that any decision on its establishment must have the consent of the Transitional Federal Government and watch over the non-promotion of brain drain in Somalia. In any case, it must be taken into account the cost - benefit of a court of such nature and its implications on security for the State and population.

It is necessary to ensure the flow of resources to the Trust Fund to Support Initiatives of States Countering Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, including the building and remodeling of prisons that meet international standards in Somaliland and Puntland, and the restoration operation of regional courts.

Taking into account the terms and constraints established by the Secretary General to ensure the effective implementation of Resolution 1976, it is essential to reiterate the importance of the effective and timely use of the arrangements referred to in Resolutions 751 and 1907 to impose sanctions on the small number of individuals identified and located as leaders of militias and pirate networks by the Monitoring Group, which could be an effective and strategic complement to the ongoing legal actions.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.


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Statement 2011