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BIMCO tasks Gulf of Guinea nations on prosecution of pirates

BIMCO has urged countries in the Gulf of Guinea region including Nigeria to increase the prosecution of suspected pirates following the release of three suspected pirates held on board Danish frigate Esbern Snare.

Jakob Larsen, head of Maritime Safety and Security in BIMCO said that if regional coastal states help prosecute apprehended pirates, it will strengthen the case for capacity-building and support from the international community, which will underpin the development of the blue economy in West Africa.

The Danish frigate was deployed to the region to join the international fight against piracy in October. The suspected pirates were captured after a shootout with Special Forces from the frigate on November 24 in waters south of Nigeria.

Four other suspects were killed in the fight but the three of the suspected pirates had remained in custody onboard Esbern Snare while a fourth, who was injured, was transferred to a hospital in Ghana and brought to Denmark for prosecution for attempted manslaughter.

Read also:  Danish military kills four pirates off Nigeria coast

The three, who had been detained aboard the frigate Esbern Snare, were put to sea on Thursday in a small dinghy with enough food and fuel for them to reach shore safely.

“They have no relation to Denmark, and the crime they have been charged with was committed far from Denmark. They simply do not belong here, and that is why I think it is the right thing to do,” Nick Haekkerup, Danish Justice Minister said in a statement in response to their release.

BIMCO in its quarter-four 2020 report, estimated that 23 attacks were carried out against merchant ships in the Gulf of Guinea with 50 seafarers kidnapped, but the number dropped to seven attacks and 20 kidnappings during the same period in 2021.

This, according to BIMCO, was thanks to international navies patrolling the areas.

BIMCO said that while the number of pirate attacks and kidnapped seafarers in the region has dropped significantly, a number of challenges remain.

“The presence of international navies is a very important step in the right direction to keep seafarers safe but establishing a sustainable security situation in the Gulf of Guinea cannot happen without the full support of the region. Bringing suspected pirates to justice is best done by regional coastal states,” David Loosley, secretary-general and CEO of BIMCO said.

Continuing, Loosley said: “We have seen suspected pirates brought to justice in the region before. An international collaboration between regional jurisdictions and non-regional military forces holds a tremendous potential that cannot be missed.”

In July 2021, it was reported that a Togolese court had convicted nine pirates following an attack on a tanker in May 2019. One of the pirates was sentenced to 15 years in prison while six were each sentenced to 12 years in prison.

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