Introduction: Modern piracy has occurred in a number of locations around the world, including the Gulf of Guinea, the Strait of Malacca, the Sulu and Celebes Seas, the Indian Ocean, and Falcon Lake.
Pirates aren’t simply fictitious characters; they’re also one of the most severe and lethal hazards to international shipping. The period between 1650 and 1730 is known as the “Golden Age of Piracy,” because there were thousands of pirates plundering and killing on the high seas. Despite the fact that maritime piracy has existed for over four centuries, seamen were unable to expose the atrocities committed against them until 1992.
The Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC), established by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) in 1992, presently acts as a single point of contact for seamen and shipmasters who can report piracy, armed robbery, and stowaway events. Although many people believe that piracy was prevalent only in the 17th and 18th centuries, the truth is that the risks are even higher today, in the twenty-first century.
The regular attacks by Somali pirates, which have been in the headlines for about 15 years, drew additional attention to piracy. Take Somalia, for example, which has been plagued by warfare, hunger, and economic woes for many years. Pirate gangs were formed as a result of their poor economic conditions, and they went out to the seas to kidnap seafarers and demand a ransom in exchange for their lives.
Types of Attacks and Preparations and What The Crew can Do: Robert Beckman defined four sorts of attacks based on four fundamental elements: – The pirates’ weaponry (because no pirate commits the crime unarmed).
— The severity of the pirates’ violence against crew members (from assault to homicide).
– The monetary worth of the stolen valuables (including the ransom for the crew, as well).
– The level of risk that maritime transportation faces. This means that if pirates strike in a narrower strait, they put not only the attacked ship and its crew at peril, but also the remainder of the ships passing through that strait.
Although pirate attacks can differ in minor characteristics, we can categorise them into three categories:
– Hit-and-run: the attackers board the ship, plunder the crew, and then flee. It only takes a few minutes to do this. – The pirates rob the crew as well as the ship’s cargo. The pirates nearly always employ sophisticated technology to hijack the ship between the hours of 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., while the crew is sleeping. The ‘phantom ship’ is the most advanced of the three. The pirates purchase or obtain a ship in some way.
It is renamed, repainted, and re-flagged. They then locate a shipper who is in a hurry to move his shipment.
The final one exemplifies how serious pirate raids may be. This type of operation necessitates weeks of planning.
Several international groups have issued tips to assist the crew in preventing attacks. These documents advise them to proceed on internationally recognised maritime routes, increase speed in risky areas, light up the ship at night, and not to stop in the event of an assault.
However, hiring a professional armed security agency is the most effective approach to protect the ships.
Even when navy patrols are far away, they can defend against an attack. The ‘Q-ship’ is another, albeit somewhat radical, way. This is a fortified ship with a more effective defence and armament system that seems to be an undefended merchant vessel, enticing pirates into an attack and killing the pirate vessel outright. This is a well-known military tactic. Piracy, on the other hand, is not a combat situation. The purpose is to bring the criminals to justice rather than to kill them. As a result, this procedure provides cause for caution.
Criminal Accountability: With the help of international organisations, the world community is attempting to combat piracy. The UN Security Council has approved many resolutions in response to this crime, and maritime organisations (IMO, IMB) are also working to assist seafarers.
For example,, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) runs the Piracy Reporting Centre, which has a database that is updated every 24 hours and allows captains to report suspicious vessels and attacks. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) provides special training sessions for states near the Gulf of Aden in order to improve their “prosecution capabilities.” This means that the UNODC assists law enforcement, courts, and prosecutors in dealing with piracy cases. The development of Somalia’s correctional system is also part of this agenda.
In addition,, military activities, including coordinated navy patrols, are occurring at the hotspots. The NATO Ocean Shield Operation, which has been helping to discourage and disrupt pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa since 2008, deserves special mention. 26 The number of attacks has fallen dramatically as a result of this operation (just two attempted attacks in 2018 until September, according to the IMB’s Live Piracy Map).
However,, no matter how successful these operations are in the short term, they are merely a symptomatic therapy of the problem, and the most important thing to do to succeed in the long run is to address the flaws in criminal accountability.
In terms of the legislative character of maritime piracy, it is the oldest crime to which universal jurisdiction applies, meaning that any state may use its own domestic law to punish anyone fighting piracy, regardless of the nationality of the pirates or the location of the attack. Bringing pirates to justice, on the other hand, is problematic because many governments engaged in combating piracy do not follow the criminal system and instead release the culprits. This hesitation has a simple explanation: these governments simply do not want to shoulder the expenditures of transporting physical evidence and witnesses to the trial site. Furthermore, because the act of piracy might involve numerous jurisdictions, including the state in which the victims are citizens, the state in which the pirates’ ship is registered, and the state in which the cargo owners are citizens, coordination of jurisdiction can be problematic.
Again, Somalia must be mentioned as a pillar of modern piracy. Somalia was branded a failed state by the United Nations. It lacks a true government with jurisdiction over the entire state’s territory, hence it is unable to implement the law. Furthermore, in Somalia, procedural safeguards and the right to a fair trial, which are well-known and sought by most countries, are not guaranteed during the criminal proceedings. Nonetheless, states engaged in combating piracy advocate for trials to be held in the region where the piratical conduct occurred.
Conclusion: Piracy on the high seas is a major danger to world peace and security. Every day, pirates jeopardise the lives of seafarers and the security of the world’s most significant sea commerce routes. Although coordinated patrols and navy coordination may be able to stop attacks in Somalia and the Malacca Strait, this is insufficient to solve the problem. States engaged in combating piracy must ensure that they have a true restraining power at their disposal, which is criminal accountability.
We don’t yet know how the international community will cope with pirates’ criminal liability. However, the situation necessitates a quick resolution, and pirates must stand trial and be condemned. Because coordinated navy patrols cannot keep pirates at bay indefinitely, this would be the genuine solution. Only for their capture is there no suitable international legal framework for responsibility. The ideal approach would be to bring piracy within the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction. It is pointless to fund the establishment of a new court because the International Criminal Court (ICC) can handle piracy cases if the required resources are made available.