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  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: June 2015

9 - Evidentiary Issues in Piracy Prosecutions



Maritime piracy is a “violent, acquisitive crime” that is transnational in nature because a ship is considered the sovereign territory of the nation whose flag it flies. Somalia and the Gulf of Aden have experienced the largest share of global piracy attacks in recent years, as instability ashore has created a growing sea-based phenomena. Currently, improving the capacity of regional forum states is the most effective way to deal with the prosecution and imprisonment of suspected pirates. For the purposes of this chapter, the term “forum states” refers to Kenya, the Seychelles, Mauritius, and the United Republic of Tanzania. These are the states in the region that are either prosecuting piracy cases with UN assistance or are engaged with the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The UNODC has a Maritime Crime Programme that is currently in its fourth year of operation.

International collaboration in the world community is also critical to the fight against piracy in the region. The establishment of the Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecutions and Intelligence Coordination Centre (RAPPICC), an anti-piracy center in the Seychelles, was a major development in this area. By 2014, RAPPICC had evolved from a purely piracy-focused mission into REFLECS-3, which has a broad mission focused on maritime security and organized crime. REFLECS-3 has various international partners, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, the European Union, and the UNODC, as well as regional partners, such as the Seychelles, Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa. REFLECS-3 is designed to gather intelligence about piracy from joint intelligence teams, EUROPOL, and INTERPOL, along with international law enforcement, military partners, and the maritime industry. Additionally, REFLECS-3 uses collected data to assemble “evidence packs” for use in prosecutions, to analyze the piracy business model and track money sources, and to coordinate with international law enforcement partners to tactically disrupt the business of piracy.