16 June 2009

UN expert on Somalia implores the Japanese legislatures for a "cerebral approach" in the new antipiracy bill

*Click the title above to read the Japanese version of this release.

The five prominent pirate centers in Somalia
(Click the map to see in full size)

(TOKYO 16 June) Appearing before the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense at the Upper House of the National Diet (Japanese parliament) on Tuesday to discuss the efficacy of a Japan's original Anti-Piracy Measures Bill, the UN expert on conflict prevention, Mr. Desmond J. Molloy of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, implored the Japanese legislatures to take a more "cerebral approach" in dealing with the Somali pirates issues off the coast of defacto dysfunct Somalia.

In his testimony, Mr. Molloy appealed to the Members of the Committee that in dealing with the Somali-originated pirates, the international flotilla is not a sustainable or cost-effective solution. Rather, Mr. Molloy suggested that instead of continuing with the "contingency activitiy," intelligence and policing activity will have a "greater impact". Referring the current opearation as only causing a so-called "cockroach effect," where one will be faced with dispersal of the bug even if one squashes one out of a swarm of them, Mr. Molloy made the following recommendations to the legislatures in considering drafting laws to counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden:

  • Careful mapping of key actors in piracy
  • Sustained pursuit of criminal prosecution of major (warlord) perpetrators by UN and Western interests
  • Confiscation of foreign criminally acquired assets of those families engaged in piracy (most leading families have dual citizenship in Western countries with assets located there)
  • Acknowledgement by the international community regarding the pillage of fish resources and toxic dumping in Somali territorial waters; sanction against those perpetrating this theft
  • Community based compensation through community capacity building investment with context sensitive organizations such as SAACID
Mr. Molloy's argument was well-received and legislatures from all parties engaged in a heated dicussion over whether Japan's participation in the flotilla is indeed a viable short-term solution to the problem, and how Japan can maximize its valuable experience in the Straits of Malacca, where Japan Coast Guard successfully managed to install RECAAP or Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery in Asia.

As its name stands, RECAAP is a regional cooperation organization to counter piracy in Asia which was created by the initiative of Japanese authorities. Another testifier argued that in the longrun, though it make take decades, a Somali-version of RECAAP could be envisioned.

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