Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jaji afuta mashtaka dhidi ya maharamia wa Kisomali

Jaji mmoja nchini Marekani ametupilia mbali baadhi ya mashtaka dhidi ya washukiwa sita wa uharamia kutoka Somalia.

Washtakiwa hao wanatuhumiwa kuishambulia meli ya wanamaji wa Marekani katika pwani ya Afrika Mashariki.

Jaji huyo amesema mashtaka hayo ya wizi, kuingia katika chombo hicho bila ruhusa na kuchukua udhibiti wake sio makosa ya uharamia.
Hata hivyo washukiwa hao baado wanakabiliwa na mashtaka mengine saba katika mahakama moja katika jimbo la Virginia.

Washukiwa hao, waliokamatwa na jeshi la wanamaji la Marekani mwezi Machi mwaka huu, wanakabiliwa na mashitaka ya uharamia, kushambulia chombo cha baharini, na matumizi ya silaha.

Idadi kubwa ya meli za kivita za kimataifa zinapambana na uharamia kwenye maji ya Somalia, eneo ambalo sheria hukiukwa.

Somalia imekuwa bila ya serikali thabiti tangu mwaka 1991, hali ambayo imesababisha uvunjaji wa sheria na kuwapa mwanya maharamia kuendesha shughuli zao katika pwani ya nchi hiyo bila kuchukuliwa hatua zozote.

It was one year ago that Somali pirates seized the tanker Maersk Alabama and then quickly paid the ultimate price – shot in the head by snipers – for their efforts. During what was a very busy year for piracy on the Indian Ocean that was the first time an American-operated ship had been seized. You might have thought its culmination, the killing of three of the four pirate/gunman holding 53-year-old Captain Richard Phillips would have given the pirates pause. (Phillips book about the incident – A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS and Dangerous Days at Sea - is just out.)

Clearly not.

While 2009 was a busy year for the Somali pirates — 217 ships attacked between Yemen and Somalia, 47 seized for ransom, 867 crew members held hostage — 2010 is looking like a record-breaker.

I was in the Indian Ocean one year ago, during the height of the grabbings, researching a film, and was struck by just how blatant the pirates had become, straying a thousand miles off the coast of Somalia into the Seychelles Islands. I was also struck by the acceptance of piracy by most of the locals, starting with the very first exhibit you see inside the door of the state museum on the Seychelles island of Mahe, which traces the discovery of the region by pirates back six centuries. It’s a very poor corner of the world and a bit of Robin Hood-on-the-seas is apparently acceptable.

This January, a Greek oil tanker and its 28-member crew were freed for $5.5 million, the largest ransom yet paid to free a hijacked ship. In February, Ukrainians paid $3.2 million to free an arms freighter. During the last week of March eight ships were hijacked in three days. Last week pirates grabbed a 300,000-ton Korean super-tanker laden with $160 million worth of crude oil headed from Iraq to the U.S., which is now anchored off the coast of Somalia, its 24-crew hostage. Its owner is negotiating for its release right now. (The pirates are not infallible, of course: In mid-March a pair of skiffs mistakenly attacked a Dutch warship, confusing it with a cargo ship; they were chased down and caught, their weapons confiscated, and let go.) Private security guards aboard a merchant ship recently shot dead one of several attackers trying to seize the vessel. The killing was thought to have been the first involving private contractors – a now booming business for underemployed mercenaries whose Iraq contracts have expired.

“The pressures and the incentives for the pirates are so great and the risks are still so low,” says Jennifer Cooke, director of the Africa program for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Washington. “Unless you get some solution on land, or cooperation from local authorities, this will just remain a problem that you can tamp down only occasionally.”

While I feel sorry for all the crew members still being held, the people I would most not want to be? The British couple in their 60s who were kidnapped last October between the Seychelles and Tanzania aboard their 38 foot sailboat, the Lynn RivaI. Held in separate camps onshore for the past six months, the pirates have lowered their ransom demand for the couple from about $9 million to $2 million; officials fear if someone doesn’t come up with the cash, militant Islamist groups may “buy” them to use as pawns.

One piece of good news? Somali pirates are reported to have donated a “large sum” to humanitarian aid in Haiti

NAIROBI, Kenya — U.S. naval forces say they’ve captured five pirates after exchanging fire with them, sinking their skiff and confiscating a mother ship.

The USS Nicholas came under fire early Thursday from pirates in an area west of the Seychelles.

The U.S. Africa Command said the five pirates seized would remain in U.S. custody on board the frigate for time time being. The Nicholas is home-ported in Norfolk, Va.

GALLERY: Black Soldiers

International naval forces have stepped up their enforcement of the waters off East Africa in an effort to thwart a growing pirate trade.

Experts say piracy will continue to be a problem until an effective government is established on Somalia’s lawless shores. The country has not had a functioning government for 19 years.

NORFOLK, Virginia — Eleven suspected Somali pirates accused in separate attacks on two U.S. Navy ships off the coast of Africa were indicted in federal court on Friday.

There was heavy security at the courthouse in Virginia when the men appeared wearing handcuffs and either bright orange or olive drab prison outfits. One used crutches and had a bandage wrapped around his head. Another used a wheelchair, with his leg covered in bandages because it had been amputated below the knee.

No comments:

Post a Comment