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Maritime Piracy

 Maritime Piracy and Armed Robbery

Pirates are the ones who commit robberies at sea, while not being appointed to do so by any specific nation. Whereas the word pirate brings to mind sea-faring heroes of the last century, the reality is that piracy remains commonplace around the world. Moreover, a pirate has become a symbol of a commonplace criminal off the Somali and Singapore coasts and within the waters of the Indian and Pacific, where the pirates are answerable for losses of up to $16 billion per annum.

According to the UN Convention on the Law of the sea (UNCLOS) of 1982, maritime piracy is any criminal acts of detention, or violence, or depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the traveler of a private craft or ship craft that is directed on the high seas against another craft, ship or against property or person on board a vessel or craft. Hence, its history is as long as the ship has gone to sea and once when people started using the oceans as trade routes. The existence of piracy itself has always been guaranteed to the international maritime industry.

Today oceans and seas have remodeled into crucial arenas for security, environment, trade and maritime geopolitics and are at major crossroads of diplomacy. Intersecting and overlapping interests undergird the complicated strategic environment that's defined by growth, mutuality, competition and vulnerability. These are supplemented by layers of nontraditional security (NTS) threats like piracy and act of terrorism, in conjunction with concern about safety at sea and property development or the blue economy.

The threat posed by piracy and armed robbery against ships has been on the India's major security threat on piracy off the coast of Somalia, within the Gulf of Aden and therefore the wider Indian Ocean. India is presently implementing a method for enhancing maritime security in Central Africa and West. It played a full of life role in putting in and functioning of the ReCAAP ISC in conjunction with Singapore and Japan. The Centre has selected the ICG because of its focal point in India for the ReCAAP.

Further, to navigate through this difficult maritime realm, the states round the Indian Ocean ought to adopt cooperative ways on security, trade, environment, resources, trade, climatic changes and safety. Apparently, numerous strategic views are being developed by a multitude of players, largely external to the Indian Ocean region, comprising the China, US and others.

Sea Piracy: Challenge For India's Maritime Security
Heavy infestation of piracy encompasses a tons to do with the geography of the region, however economic conditions and the mind-set of the coastal folks within the hundreds of minor islands that are spread across the Malacca Straits and South China ocean also are major issues. Piracy within the Straits of Malaccas has been illustrious for several centuries and may be a historic fact. The strait is slender, contains thousands of islets and is an outlet for several rivers creating it a perfect location for piracy because the pirates will simply hide at large amount of places.

Due to the cooperative efforts by the countries of the region Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Kingdom of Thailand piracy-related incidents are returning down step by step. Indian Navy and ICG conjointly joined the antipiracy efforts in 2006. Recently, piracy-related incidents appear to have spilled over from these 2 areas into the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. Indeed, the center of gravity of piracy has been step by step shifting to the waters around India and there has recently been direct confrontation between the Indian agencies like the Indian Navy and ICG and the pirates from African country.

There was a dramatic rise in the piracy incidents in recent years. The number of incidents within the Horn of Africa region doubled in 2017 compared to the previous year, in step with the annual State of Piracy report that was released by the non-profit One Earth Future's Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) program. The Isolated Andaman and Nicobar Islands will become safe heavens for the pirates unless strict vigil is maintained by the Indian Navy and therefore the ICG. Additionally threat of outlawed migration and management of large Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of India adds another necessary dimension to the maritime security of India. There's conjointly sizeable threat of act of terrorism from these pirates as they will be part of the international organizations just like the al-Qaida and use the hijacked ships like the massive oil tankers as bombs in their dirty mission.

Since maritime safety and security is a multi-faceted issue, particularly in the realm of non-traditional threats, it's necessary to focus on the acute and imperative need for defense of the ocean lanes of communications.

"Save our seafarers"
In an endeavor to extend the governmental response to the piracy crisis, the leading maritime shipping associations and therefore the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) have initiated the "Save Our Seafarers" campaign, within which governments are asked to take up steps to eradicate piracy at sea and ashore:

  • Reduce the effectiveness of the easily recognizable pirate mother ships.

  • Authorize naval service to detain pirates and deliver them for prosecution and penalization.

  • Fully criminalize all acts of piracy and therefore the intent to commit piracy below national laws in accordance with their obligatory duty to join forces to suppress piracy under international conventions.

  • Increase naval service assets within the space.

  • Provide much protection and support for seafarers.

  • Trace and criminalize the organizers and financiers behind the criminal networks.

Present legal provisions in India for tackling piracy
Currently, ship safety and security are handled by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) underneath the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, that itself is a modification to the International Convention for the protection of life sea (SOLAS) of 1974/78 and came into force in 2004. At the international level, Sections 101 to 107 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) relate to sea piracy. However India has still been unable to form and adopt any categorical municipal legislation to tackle this issue.

Hence to fill this present lacuna the Indian Government has recently formulated a brand new categorical municipal law to tackle piracy. The new law would agitate acts of piracy and alternative complicated problems on the high seas. Impetus has conjointly been provided by the Supreme Court asking the Centre to come up with a compensation measure and comprehensive laws. A Piracy news Center has been set up in Kuala Lumpur.

Presently many sections in the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) define piracy and there's a necessity to adopt a domestic law on the topic. In India, piracy problems are tackled by the provisions of Indian penal code and also the admiralty law.

The high seas being open to all nations, no state may validly purport to subject any part of them to its sovereignty.

In the past decade, incidents of armed robbery for most of the parts have been restricted to a few number of ports. In 2020, incidents of armed robbery were reportable from only one port, with the balance being reported from Alang. Whereas overall there has been an uptick in the past 3 years, it's not exceeded the 14-year average. However, as highlighted by the RecAAP ISC, incidents of armed robbery, notwithstanding how petty, have important connotations from the maritime security perspective.

The successful apprehension of criminals, as additionally the next suppression in Gujarat, has truly drawn the praise of the ReCAAP ISC. The suppression of armed robbery in different major ports across India is noteworthy. However, incidence of armed robbery are indicative of the presence of local criminal parts, and there remains the chance of such criminals colluding with anti-national elements. The 1993 Mumbai attack may be a grim reminder of this possibility.

Preventing, and responding to, armed robbery necessitates a multi-pronged approach by all stakeholders like those concerned in port security, ports, shipping business, police, and now, the ship-recycling business. Therefore, consolidating on the gains, and strengthening of security measures across ports and ship-recycling yards is an indispensable, not just for suppressing armed robbery, however for strengthening overall coastal security.

After longing the laws concerning piracy on seas, one major drawback that's seen is the serious dearth of a good legislation to take care of such a pressing menace. Though there are some laws at the international level they seriously lack teeth. As far as the municipal law on the issue is concerned there exists a serious lacuna that has to be resolved as soon as possible. For example in India we want to rely upon laws framed by the Indian penal code, the Foreigner's act for prosecuting pirates. There exists no specific law on this issue though the government is thinking of formulating a specific law it's still within the pipeline.

With the rising menace of piracy everyday it can solely be hoped that the government sticks to its word and is in a position to draft a good legislation as soon as possible.


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