A WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY FOR PEACE AND SECURITY
Seychelles President James Michel has described the London Conference on Somalia as a ‘window of opportunity’ towards a turning point for the future of the war-torn country, during his address to the conference during the session on security.
The President called on Britain, as the conference chair, and other world powers participating in the discussions, to share the responsibility for the security of the Indian Ocean region, in relation to the Somali piracy activity as well as the need to ‘re-connect Somalia’ to the rest of the world.
“The Indian Ocean does not belong to any state. It belongs to us all. We have come together in London because all of us present are resolved to share responsibility for the security and stability of this region,” said President Michel.
The President stressed the need for the international community to work with regional governments and communities within Somalia to strengthen the potential for investment in infrastructure in these regions, as well as the implementation of the effective rule of law.
“Prison capacity in Somalia is a key part of this equation. Seychelles is currently working with its Somali partners in the TFG, the governments of Puntland and Somaliland to be able to undertake the transfer of convicted pirates to designated monitored prisons in Somalia. Seychelles has already demonstrated its determination to end impunity, with 63 pirates already convicted and serving sentences of up to 24 years…. We have also recently taken on a further 18 pirates from UK and Danish vessels. We have a total of 88 Somali prisoners. We have reached the limit of – even surpassed – our detention capacity. The burden needs to be shared.”
The President informed the conference that Seychelles had signed a statement with Somaliland this week, for the commitment to transfer 19 convicted pirates to serve their sentences in a UN built facility in Somaliland.
Mr.Michel also noted that Seychelles has already spent 4% of our GDP in combating piracy and that revenues from fishing and port earnings are down 30%.
”We are small island state with limited resources. Seychelles cannot stand alone- it needs the continued support of the international community…It is clear that we must strengthen the capacity of regional coastal states to be more involved in oceanic governance, interdiction, surveillance and enforcement of the rule of law. We cannot fight what is a war of the international community, alone. There is a crucial need to reinforce the naval and judicial capabilities of littoral states. Seychelles can do a lot, if additional resources are put at our disposal. We are ready- we are committed.”
The President stressed the importance of improving information and intelligence sharing networks. He expressed his satisfaction for the signing of a groundbreaking agreement this week with British Prime Minister Cameron, to establish a Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecution and Intelligence Centre in Seychelles.
The President also highlighted the there almost 200 hostages currently still held in Somalia and that two of them are Seychelles nationals.
“It is time to break this cycle of crime. It is time for Somalis to be able to strive for their own development, side by side with the other peoples of this region. As a maritime state, we cannot secure our nation without securing our ocean. Our ocean connects us to the world. And at this conference we are grateful for this sense of interconnection which allows us to cooperate effectively with so many partners here today.”
- · Extract from the Conference Final Communiqué on the subject of Piracy
- 14. We reiterated our determination to eradicate piracy, noting that the problem requires a comprehensive approach on land as well as at sea. We expressed our concern that hostages in Somalia are being held longer and with more use of violence. We welcomed the work of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. We also welcomed the success of international military efforts, and remain committed to such efforts with robust rules of engagement and sufficient force generation. We agreed that piracy cannot be solved by military means alone, and reiterated the importance of supporting communities to tackle the underlying causes of piracy, and improving the effective use of Somali coastal waters through regional maritime capacity-building measures. We welcomed those initiatives underway and agreed to coordinate and support such initiatives better. We called for full implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct and the adoption of an Exclusive Economic Zone. We look forward to reviewing progress including at the Piracy Conference in the UAE in June.
- 15. We welcomed the efforts of partners in industry against piracy, and called for greater take-up of Best Management Practice on ships. We welcomed current work on international guidance on the use of private armed security companies.
- 16. There will be no impunity for piracy. We called for greater development of judicial capacity to prosecute and detain those behind piracy both in Somalia and in the wider region and recognised the need to strengthen capacity in regional states. We welcomed new arrangements, which enable some states and naval operations to transfer suspected pirates captured at sea for trial by partners across the Indian Ocean region, and if convicted, to transfer them to prisons in Puntland and Somaliland which meet international standards. We noted the intention to consider further the possibility of creating courts in Somalia specialised in dealing with piracy.
- 17. We reiterated our determination to prosecute the kingpins of piracy. Recognising work already undertaken, we agreed to enhance coordination on illegal financial flows and to coordinate intelligence gathering and investigations. We noted the establishment of a Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecutions Intelligence Coordination Centre in the Seychelles.