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Page last updated at 22:21 GMT, Tuesday, 27 April 2010 23:21 UK

UN backs tougher stance against Somali piracy

Somali with gun and ship in background
Dozens of ships in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden have been seized

The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at making it easier to prosecute pirates caught off the coast of Somalia.

The Russian-drafted resolution calls for an international legal system to better deal with acts of piracy.

It urges all countries to criminalise piracy under their domestic law.

Pirates captured by international naval forces patrolling off Somalia are currently being handed over to Kenya and the Seychelles for prosecution.

However, there are concerns that the Kenyan legal system in particular is overburdened by the practice.

Some captured pirates have been freed because of uncertainty about who could prosecute them.

Tribunal

The resolution calls on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to explore various options for prosecuting and imprisoning Somali pirates.

These include a regional or international tribunal, or the possibility of states creating special domestic chambers with international components.

It also appeals to all countries to criminalise piracy under domestic laws.

Some council members, while supporting the resolution, stressed the need to strengthen the government and institutions of the war-torn state.

Somalia has not had an effective government for nearly 20 years, and is plagued by in-fighting between rival factions.

In recent years, pirates have seized dozens of ships in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden.

They have recently expanded the reach of their attacks to avoid European and US patrols off the Somali coast.



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