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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

African Pirate Life: Armed Robbery at Sea

The fact that crime and violence in international waters from pirates often goes unpunished is a day-to-day fact of Seafarers.



Kidnapping, Armed Robbery and Murder at Sea


The fact that crime and violence in international waters from pirates often goes unpunished is a day-to-day fact of Seafarers.
Money and African Pirates
Pirates are stereotypically known for drinking rum, making treasure maps, and making people walk the plank. The Barbarossa Brothers, Blackbeard and Henry Morgan were not your Johnny Depp Pirates of the Caribbean type characters, and neither are today's modern pirate.

In 2015, a cellphone video was discovered showing at least four unarmed men being gunned down in international waters. Even though there were witnesses and selfies of the murdering crewmembers, the murders went unreported and remain unpunished to this very day.

There have been 14 attacks on commercial vessels off Nigeria's Rivers and Bayelsa states. However, crews taking evasive maneuvers avoided eight of the raids. However, in the six, which succeeded, 23 crewmembers were kidnapped for ransom.


Cost of Piracy


Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) is a project of the One Earth Future Foundation, a privately funded and independent non-profit organization located in Colorado, USA.  OBP believes that the answers to the piracy problem should come from within East and West African Countries. OBP says there was under-reporting or non-reporting of piracy and armed robbery attacks at sea.

There are numerous reasons international piracy continues; lack of uniformity for international agreements on criminalization of piracy, criminal jurisdiction, criminal procedures, laws of gathering evidence, prisoner transfer laws, transfer agreements, support to police and investigations, support for the trial processes and prison arrangements.

OBP lists three main reasons why they are concerned about changes in Pirate Activity:

Kidnapping
A machine gun is seen on a sandbag on a boat off the Atlantic coast in Nigeria's Bayelsa state December 19, 2013.
A machine gun is seen on a sandbag
on a boat off the Atlantic coast in
Nigeria's Bayelsa state
December 19, 2013.
Kidnap for Ransom against merchant vessels has significantly increased.

Violence
Pirates are becoming more violent and aggressive and often initiate attacks by firing at the bridge to intimidate the crew prior to boarding.

Range
Pirates’ operational range has increasing due to faster ships, modern weapons and GPS.


There is a very real and present danger of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. In the Gulf of Guinea, the north-easternmost part of the tropical Atlantic Ocean, in 2016 there has been an upswing in sea piracy. Attacks against oil pipelines and facilities ashore around the Niger Delta have escalated. Maritime security is important for the sustainable development and growth of the global seafaring industry.

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