_________________________________ 3 – Le Vif (Belgique)
45 réfugiés se noient le long des côtes du Yémen
Quarante-cinq réfugiés originaires de Somalie et d’Ethiopie ont perdu la vie dans la nuit de vendredi à samedi après que leur embarcation s’était retournée dans le Golfe d’Aden, en eaux yéménites.
Quarante-six réfugiés africains se trouvaient sur le bateau. Un ressortissant éthiopien et trois trafiquants d’êtres humains ont pu regagner les côtes. Les trafiquants ont été appréhendés.
L’embarcation provenait du port de Bossasso, en Somalie.
Depuis le début de l’année, quelque 9.500 réfugiés ont atteint les côtes yéménites. Sur l’ensemble de l’année 2008, ils étaient plus de 50.000. Selon le Haut Commissariat des Nations unies pour les réfugiés (HCR), près de 600 personnes avaient perdu la vie au cours de ces traversées
._________________________________ 2 – AllAfrica.com (En Anglais)
Des experts chargés de construire un cadre juridique pour poursuivre légalement les pirates. // Africa: Legal Experts Take Action to Prosecute Pirates
Jacquelyn S. Porth
Pirates that have been attacking ships off Africa no longer will have free rein because the international community is apprehending and prosecuting them.
Pirates increasingly are being captured — sometimes caught in the act, other times spotted with incriminating evidence. Pirates can be prosecuted if they are seen boarding or if they are sailing with weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades. The Associated Press reports that unmanned aerial drones equipped with night-vision gear recently provided the evidence of pirate paraphernalia needed for the U.S. Navy to apprehend nine pirates in the Gulf of Aden on February 12.
When caught by patrolling navies, pirates are temporarily incarcerated in the hold of a ship, then transferred to a nation willing to prosecute in a court of law.
The threat of a lengthy court proceeding and a long prison sentence resulting from a successful prosecution will hopefully deter a slew of pirates who have been operating largely without consequence in the past year.
In 2008, there were 115 pirate attacks off the coast of Africa. There have been a dozen more attacks in 2009. And, an estimated 100 merchant ship crew members from countries including India, Greece, the Philippines and Ukraine still are being held hostage as a result of incidents in the past year.
But, in a sign of the times, France picked up some pirates on land in Somalia during a raid to free hostages in April 2008, and France is prosecuting the pirates.
Also, more recently, the Danish navy nabbed some pirates at sea and sent them to the Netherlands, where they are being tried and face a 12-year sentence if convicted.
Kenya is another country with experience prosecuting pirates and, under a recent agreement, will play an increased role in legal action against piracy.
International law defines piracy as any act of violence, detention or depredation conducted on the high seas from one vessel to another.
There are several relevant legal instruments: the 1958 Convention on the High Seas, the 1988 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation (signed by more than three-quarters of the world’s nations) and the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention.
The French navy apprehended 19 pirates off the coast of Somalia in January.
But recent agreements are already making it even tougher for pirates. A group of African nations signed a regional code of conduct in Djibouti in January on the subject of piracy. Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, the Maldives, the Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania, Yemen and Djibouti were early signatories. The document, aimed at repressing armed robbery against ships off Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, remains open for signature by all countries in the region.
Each signatory has agreed to review its legislation to be sure there are existing laws to criminalize piracy and related crimes as well as sufficient guidelines to investigate and prosecute.
Captain Charles Michel, chief of the Coast Guard’s Office of Maritime and International Law, said countries interested in combating piracy must have the laws in place to prosecute and must be willing to see the prosecution through.
The United Nations recently passed two resolutions (numbers 1851 and 1846), which authorize actions against Somali pirates on land, as well as at sea. The resolutions are expected to spur further captures of pirates.
In the United States, the National Security Council, a high-level White House forum, issued a piracy action plan for the Horn of Africa just before the transition from the Bush to the Obama administration. The action plan focuses on preventing and responding to attacks and negotiating agreements leading to the prosecution of perpetrators.
Furthermore, the United States and Kenya signed a memorandum of understanding (as has Kenya and the United Kingdom) in January. Under its terms, the U.S. Navy can transfer captured pirates to Kenya for prosecution. Kenya may choose to prosecute or extradite the pirates (to the hostages’ home country or to the country under which the captured ship sailed).
BUILDING A LEGAL CASE
Michel said the legal process can be daunting because so many parties may be involved in any one case: for example, Somali pirates, U.S. military personnel, Filipino crew and Kenyan judges. Legal experts also say that, for these new agreements on piracy to be effective, it will be critical for prosecutors to collect physical and video evidence that will be admissible in Kenyan courts.
According to Michel, the legal process can be excruciating. Even after detaining captured pirates, naval personnel must arrange to transfer the pirates to Kenya. Then the Kenyans have to figure out where to house them while building their case. Witnesses have to be assembled, depositions collected and all kinds of preparatory work completed before they can be tried.
The United States has agreed to help support future trials by transporting victims from attacked ships to Kenya or to supply as prosecution witnesses Navy and Coast Guard personnel who served on ship-boarding teams. The U.S. Coast Guard assigned law enforcement detachments to a Navy special task force to help collect and train ship-boarding team members in the best methods of collecting prosecutable evidence.
The U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service has a role too, with special agents assigned to Combined Task Force-151. They interview suspects and witnesses and coordinate with lawyers and foreign law enforcement agencies.
There is a strong international commitment to jail as many pirates as possible as a deterrent to others who would contemplate a life of crime on the high seas. Besides the nine pirates the Navy captured February 12, Michel said there is sufficient evidence to send another set of pirates apprehended a day earlier to Kenya for prosecution under the new bilateral agreement.
_________________________________ 1 – Shabelle (En Anglais)
45 émigrants trouvent la mort dans un accident de bateau au large du Yémen. // 45 migrants die in boat accident off Yemen
Forty-five Africans drowned after a boat carrying them from Somalia across the Gulf of Aden capsized in deep waters off Yemen, the country’s interior ministry said Saturday.
The boat, carrying 46 would-be migrants from Somalia and Ethiopia, capsized Friday night about 95 km off the southeastern Yemeni port of Mukalla, the ministry said in a statement.
An Ethiopian passenger and three traffickers were able to get safely to shore, the ministry said. The smugglers were arrested.
The boat was making a two-day journey across the Gulf of Aden from the northern Somali port of Bossasso.
It was not clear what caused the boat to capsize.
This was the second accident involving migrants off Yemen in the course of about one week.
On Feb 20, six African migrants drowned and 11 were reported missing and presumed dead after traffickers pushed dozens of passengers overboard in deep waters off Yemen’s south-eastern coast.
Smugglers forced the 52 passengers – 40 Somalis and 12 Ethiopians – into the sea after they spotted Yemeni coast guards onshore. At least 35 people reached shore, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.
Many African migrants, mostly from conflict-torn Somalia, try to reach Yemen, which is seen as a gateway to Europe and the oil-rich countries of the Arabian peninsula.
Hundreds of people perish every year in the perilous exodus that takes thousands of desperate Somalis and Ethiopians to Yemen in small boats run by people traffickers operating from Somali ports.
Since the beginning of the year, 168 boats carrying 9,449 people have reached the Yemeni coast. At least 47 people died while trying to reach Yemen by sea from Somalia during the same period, according to UNHCR.
The influx of new arrivals across the Gulf of Aden since the beginning of this year is slightly higher than during the same period in 2008.
More than 50,000 migrants, the vast majority of them Somalis, resorted to traffickers for the treacherous sea crossing between Somalia and Yemen in 2008.
At least 590 people drowned and another 359 were reported missing last year as result of crossings gone wrong, often with traffickers forcing the migrants overboard, UNHCR said.