The latest statement of determination to prevent piracy, from the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, US Navy Admiral James Stavridis, has been welcomed by the International Transport Workers’ Federation.
In a response letter to ITF seafarers’ section chair Dave Heindel, Admiral Stavridis reiterated the NATO task force’s determination to ‘use all its means to limit the freedom of movement to the Pirate Action Groups in the area.’
In his letter to Admiral Stavridis, Mr Heindel raised the ITF’s concerns over the greater use of violence and torture by pirates, and the failure by many flag states to make any real contribution to the fight against piracy. He wrote: ‘We need a more robust response in all areas. This would include disrupting the pirate camps on land and restricting their access to fuel and to their ability to store fuel. We would like to see their “safe anchorages” being made less safe.’
He continued: ‘We would like to work closely with you and to play an active part in raising the political will to take decisive action to combat piracy. If the military had been allowed to do so a few short years ago, I doubt we would be in the situation we are now in. Our fear is the longer it is allowed to go on, the more difficult it will become to deliver an effective response.’
In his reply, Admiral Stavridis said: ‘As you are well aware, the military action at sea, conducted by several coalitions, only addresses the symptoms of a wider problem which remains on land in Somalia, which has suffered from absence of government for more than two decades. I would like to assure you that we are doing as much as we can, with the assets the NATO members have allocated to the NATO counter-piracy task force.’
He said the implementation of Best Management Practices was crucial and that was why the NATO Shipping Centre in Northwood publicised the measures to be taken among NATO members and on its website.
Regarding the legal framework about detention and prosecution of suspected pirates, he added that NATO Headquarters was attempting to negotiate a number of arrangements to allow the transfer to and from some regional states.
‘Your concern about this issue will be relayed to NATO Headquarters which is dealing with the political aspect of the problem,’ he told Mr Heindel.