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IMO Pledges Support To Somalia In Tackling Piracy Movement

by Lorys Charalambous,, Cyprus

09 November 2009

The Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, Efthimios Mitropoulos, has reiterated the organization’s assurance to the Prime Minister of Somalia’s transitional government, Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke, that it stands ready to assist Somalia in repressing piracy off its coast and in the Gulf of Aden, following a meeting at IMO Headquarters in London on October 27.

Also present at the meeting were the TFG’s (Transitional Federal Government) Minister of Planning and International Communication, Abdirahman Abdishukur Warsame; and the Minister of Post and Telecommunications, Abdirizak Osman Hassan.

Mitropoulos emphasized the importance of the effective implementation of the Code of Conduct concerning the Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, which was adopted in Djibouti in January 2009.

The aims of this Code, to which Somalia is a signatory, include: ensuring co-operation among its signatory countries for the investigation, arrest and prosecution of pirates; the interdiction and seizure of suspect ships and property on board such ships; the rescue of ships, persons and property subject to acts of piracy and armed robbery; and the conduct of shared operations – both among signatory States and also with navies from outside the region.

Sharmarke observed that piracy off his country’s coast needed to be tackled from the land side as well as from the sea. He requested assistance to halt attacks from the two main piracy networks (one in the central region of Somalia and one in Puntland), through the establishment of information-sharing centres which would analyze how the pirates operate, and their money flow.

Sharmarke is keen that pirates are prosecuted within Somalia, and he told the meeting that national legislation is being reviewed accordingly. He further requested assistance from the IMO in this area.

Concluding the meeting, Mitropoulos pledged that the IMO and member states, under its technical cooperation programme, would help Somalia establish a national coastguard.

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