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Meldung "Kein Ende der Piraterie in SichtE in Bundeswehr aktuell Ausgabe 26.03.2013

 Wednesday, 27 March 2013 13:33

altSomali piracy still poses a significant threat as numbers remain high and criminals remain heavily armed, say experts, who maintain that figures showing a reduction in Somali piracy mask the true numbers.

While International Maritime Bureau (IMB) statistics covering 2012 depict a reduction in Somali piracy, now relegating the country to second place in number of acts of overall piracy, the danger faced from Somalian Pirates in the Gulf of Aden are as potent as ever, according to maritime security company Typhon.

Somalia’s pirates are still responsible for around 2/3 of the world’s hijackings, and attack more steaming ships than any other pirates in the world.

Global pirate attacks on ships fell to 297 in 2012, compared with 439 in 2011, and was at its lowest since 2008 when 293 incidents were recorded, according to the IMB.

About 10 percent of those attacks resulted in the ship being successfully hijacked. Twenty eight vessels were taken in 2012, down from 45 in 2011 and 53 in 2010. Of those 28, 14 were commandeered by Somali gangs, half the number taken in 2011, said the IMB, which has been monitoring global piracy since 1991.

As of March 13, 47 incidences of piracy and armed robbery at sea have been recorded this year, and three hijackings. Somali pirates are holding five vessels and 65 hostages.

According to Typhon, the statistics that show a fall in the region are somewhat misleading. “With the cost of piracy to business rocketing, companies are now finding ways to avoid the costly reporting process that takes place when an act of piracy has been endured,” the company said.

Ant Sharp, CEO of Typhon Maritime Security explained, “Ships who report acts of piracy are then required to dock for long periods lasting up to a year to undergo investigation. This means severe disruption at a high cost to ships carrying valuable cargo. A third of the ships hit by pirates are tankers carrying crude oil or chemical products.

“Added on to these delays is the hike in insurance premiums then suffered by the shipping company, who see their profits hit from two angles despite being the victims. This lead to a situation where if an act of piracy takes place where no injury or heavy duty damage is sustained, it is becoming an increasingly common practice to deal with the incident internally.”

The drastic reduction in piracy is largely due to the presence of international warships around the Gulf of Aden and the use of private maritime security companies. So far, not a single ship with armed guards has been taken by pirates - although naval officers and other piracy specialists say hired guards can be excessively trigger-happy and have fired on innocent fishermen from India, Oman and Yemen.

The economics of Somali piracy


 Lesen Sie den Original-report von Besley / Fetzer / Mueller hier weiter unten nach diesem Beitrag.

Since 2008, Somali pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden have made about $120 million per year in net profits. But they’ve cost the shipping industry far, far more than that — between $900 million and $3.3 billion per year.

That’s according to an offbeat recent paper by Timothy Besley, Thiemo Fetzer and Hannes Mueller that tries to break down the economics of Somali piracy. The authors find that piracy has increased shipping costs in the region by 8 percent since attacks ramped up in 2008.

Among other things, the shipping industry has had to pay for armed security, ransoms, safer ships and even taxes for an increased military presence in the region. All told, these extra costs come to between $900 million and $3.3 billion per year. The authors also found a seasonal fluctuation — it’s about 14 percent cheaper to charter a ship through the Gulf of Aden during the summer monsoons, when fewer pirates are out, than during the spring.

As Tim Fernholz points out at Quartz, the numbers here suggest that piracy is an extremely inefficient form of wealth transfer. (Not to mention deadly.) It would be cheaper, though unrealistic, for the shipping industry to just hand over $120 million to the pirates. Alternatively, the authors estimate that just $1.3 billion in extra costs would be enough to employ 1.5 million workers in Somalia at prevailing wages.

Here’s the paper’s conclusion: “The analysis further underlines the difference between organized extraction by the state in the form of taxation and disorganized predation. We estimate that the latter is at least ten times more costly.”

In any case, there’s now a question of whether Somali piracy is still as big a problem as it once was. Recent reports suggest that attacks are down two-thirds since last year. That might be because of all the extra actions taken since 2008 — from stepped-up security on ships to the international armada off the Horn of Africa. Or, as the Economist notes, Somali pirates might just be biding their time during a period of bad weather.

Related: For more on the economics of piracy, here’s a recent paper (pdf) by three European researchers on the strategies used during negotiations. Here’s one summary:

They found that Somali pirates pretend to be more sophisticated than they are, whereas shipowners pretend to be poorer. Nowadays both sides have an interest in a speedy resolution, since a prolonged negotiation incurs costs. For the shipowner, the cargo spoils and the ship goes unused. For the pirates, the captured crew must be fed and the ship guarded. And pirates cannot last long without a resupply ofqat, which is to them as rum is to Captain Jack Sparrow. Settle too quickly, though, and one side or other is likely to get a poor deal.

Source: Washington Post 

Piracy in Somalia costs billions

 31  26  18

For every $120 million seized by pirates in Somalia, the cost to the shipping industry and the end consumer is between $0.9 and $3.3 billion, according to research by Tim Besley (LSE and the IGC Steering Group), Thiemo Fetzer (LSE) and Hannes Mueller (Barcelona GSE). This money is enough to employ well over a million Somalis for a whole year.

The study examines the effect of pirate attacks on shipping costs. It looks at shipping routes whose shortest path takes them through regions where pirates are known to operate and finds that the increase in attacks in 2008 led to around an 8% increase in shipping costs. The study uses this estimate to get a sense of the loss to society caused by piracy.

Personnel from RFA Fort Victoria board a boat suspected of use by pirates near Somalia.  © Crown copyright 2011.

For centuries, piracy has posed a threat to trade at sea. Setting to one side the romanticised image of pirates in fiction, modern day pirates are organised bandits that thrive in areas where law and order is weak, either because particular states provide safe havens or because of poor international cooperation to police them. Beyond the costs to people’s lives, this may have repercussions for worldwide trade.

Yet despite the long-standing importance of piracy, little is known about its economic costs. The issue has been brought into sharp relief by the upsurge of piracy in the Gulf of Aden between Somalia and Yemen. The waterway is part of the important Suez Canal shipping route between the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Sea in the Indian Ocean with 21,000 ships crossing the gulf each year, at one point it is only 20 miles wide. The gulf is earning the nickname ‘Pirate Alley’ due to the extent of pirate activity in the area. This poses a threat to one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

The paper aims to do three things.

  • First, it models the frequency of piracy attacks in Somalia as a means of generating monthly forecasts of such attacks.
  • Second, it matches the piracy forecast to data on around 24,000 shipping contracts. It works out the closest navigable sea distance between each origin and destination port for which a ship has been chartered. This allows the study to compare the cost of shipping on a monthly basis and to see what effect a surge in piracy has on these costs.
  • Third, it uses these estimates to examine the cost to society of Somali piracy.

It estimates that shipping costs for some goods rises by around 8% when pirate activity increases in Somalia. The estimates also suggest that it is around 14% cheaper to charter ships through the Gulf of Aden during the summer monsoon (July-August) than in spring (March-April), when there is more piracy. And this seasonal pattern in shipping prices is absent prior to the upsurge in pirate activity in the region during 2008.

These extra shipping costs are mostly due to the increased security measures that are needed to repel pirate attacks and risk premiums paid to crew and insurance. The authors argue that these constitute a ‘welfare cost’ as labour and resources are allocated from other more productive sectors of the economy productive to guard services. The study develops a model to compare this cost to the shipping industry through pirate attacks to a tax on shipping which would finance the same transfer to pirates. This allows the authors to calculate the welfare loss caused by piracy. The main estimate suggests that the resource costs incurred in an industry worth $120 million a year to Somali pirates is between $0.9 and $3.3 billion.

To put this in context, the research looks at how many Somalis could be hired for one year using the additional resources that it estimate are expended by the shipping industry in response to the threat of piracy. Using wage data from the Somali Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) presented it estimates a yearly wage of around $900. This means that the extra spending due to piracy could finance one year of employment for well over 1 million workers at the going market rate. The authors are quick to note that this does not mean that such a transfer scheme would be realistic or that it would prevent piracy, but it does illustrate the scale of losses to the industry relative to the reality of the Somali economy.

Piracy has always posed a particular problem because of the difficulty of securing international agreement over whose responsibility it is to deal with the problem and how the costs are shared. Private solutions to increase security such as carrying guards aboard ships are inherently less efficient than a government or policing body providing security for all.

While the international community has now attempted to introduce naval patrols to combat Somali piracy, this is extremely expensive and requires international diplomacy between a number of states. In the end, the study argues that the most promising long-term solution would seem to be to restore a functional Somali state that can deny pirates safe haven, thereby dealing with the problem at its source.


Ideas for Growth

While pirates are unique to the sea, the problem of bandits is common to many developing countries. A traditional problem in countries with weak institutions is that companies bringing goods to market face the threat of kidnap and theft. The consequences of this failure to establish and enforce property rights is a core theme in development policy.

This study shows that the costs of banditry are far more than the costs to private companies of having an effective state that enforces taxes and redistributes wealth. It estimates that piracy is at least ten times more costly. While many private companies are loathe to pay taxes in developing countries to governments they consider corrupt, the study points out that this may be the lesser of two evils, adding a reference to the late American economist and social scientist Mancur Olsen. It notes ‘pirates are roving bandits while the state is a stationary bandit and hence is in a better place to organise extraction at lower costs.’ However it closes by saying: ‘without a return to strong law and order in Somalia, it seems unlikely that these welfare costs will disappear any time soon.’

Originale Quelle:


Long road to justice – The German piracy trial




This post comes from Tim René Salomon. He is a Rechtsreferendar (articled clerk) in Hamburg and currently assigned to the Landgericht Hamburg. The opinions expressed in this article are solely his own.

After 105 days of trial and a duration of almost 2 years, Judge Dr. Steinmetz announced the verdict and penalties on Friday, the 19th of October 2012 for the Third Grand Penal Chamber of the Landgericht Hamburg. The ten accused were found guilty of two crimes, attack on maritime traffic (§ 316c German Criminal Code – StGB) and abduction for the purpose of blackmail (§ 239a StGB). The adults were sentenced to six to seven years, while the juveniles and accused which were under 21 years of age at the time of perpetration were handed a two year penalty and will walk free after having served their time already during the extended period of pre-trial detention. It may be of even greater surprise, although the author finds this aspect to be one of the great success stories of the trial, that the three young accused behaved exemplary in pre-trial detention during which they went to school and have, after their early release, continued going to school with one of the accused even delivering his last word in the proceeding partially in German.

In the four hours of Steinmetz‘s announcement, he stressed numerous aspects of the trial, the acts committed and the political backgrounds and took the time to deliver his personal perception of what he termed an “absolutely exceptional proceeding”. This exceptionality is clear to observers everywhere. It was Germany’s first piracy trial in about 400 years, it was exceptional in the sense that so far no other trials in Germany are on the horizon on the subject matter, but it was also exceptional or better put notorious for its duration. The fact that it took two years is indeed remarkable, when looking at the rather simple case at hand:

The MV Taipan was headed from Haifa, Israel to Mombasa, Kenya and avoided the vicinity of Somalia in order to be relatively safe from pirate attacks. 500 nm from the Somali coast in the middle of the Indian Ocean on the April, 5 2010 they sighted the dhow Hud Hud, a kidnapped vessel, which was first deemed harmless and the threat it posed became apparent only when it sent two skiffs towards the container vessel Taipan. The crew of the Taipan, which now travelled full speed, was sent to the safe room and the master and two crew-members remained on the bridge. When the skiffs closed in and machine gun fire hit the Taipan, the master ordered everyone in the ship’s citadel. The pirates on the skiffs tried to climb on board, observed by a German maritime surveillance aircraft, and eventually succeeded. The individual role of each accused could not be ascertained with the necessary certainty, but it is documented that the pirates changed the vessel’s course to Somalia and destroyed the GPS antenna to complicate the tracking of the Taipan. After the Taipan’s master Eggers noticed this, he blacked out the vessel from the citadel to stop its travel, knowing that the Netherlands Navy frigate HNLMS Tromp was near, although the attack took place outside of the area under the EU ATALANTA mandate. During the following four hours the pirates unsuccessfully searched for the safe room until soldiers from the Netherlands Navy boarded the Taipan and apprehended ten suspects after a brief previous exchange of fire between the Tromp and the pirates. The suspects were then taken to Djibouti, flown to the Netherlands and were eventually extradited to Germany, where the prosecution was conducted.

What seems to be a rather clear cut case ended up to be a very challenging and long-lasting endeavor for the Hamburg court, which has led the trial with meticulous care. The applicability of German criminal law was more or less uncomplicated, since it derives from the German flag of the Taipan (§ 4 StGB), the passive personality principle as two victims, the master Eggers and merchant seaman Preuß, were German nationals (§ 7 (2) StGB) and the universality principle, which German law applies to attacks on maritime traffic (§ 6 Nr. 3 StGB). The court could have mentioned § 3 StGB, the territoriality principle, as the blackmail was directed against a German-based company, which means that the result of the crime arguably should have occurred in Germany according to the intention of the offenders (§ 9 StGB). Also the Hamburg court is locally competent because of the Taipan‘s home port, Hamburg (§ 10 German Criminal Procedure Code – StPO), with the Grand Penal Chamber of the Landgericht being the proper instance because of the expected penalty above four years imprisonment.

At the start of the proceeding every accused was granted two lawyers to prepare and conduct their defense. The issues started early in the trial. Seeing that people under the age of fourteen cannot be held criminally liable in Germany, the court first had to conduct medical exams to verify the claims of some of the accused that they were below this threshold or were at least under 18 or 21 respectively, rendering the juvenile code applicable. Two expert witnesses were heard until this issue was resolved with the necessary certainty. Moreover, during the trial, witnesses were heard e.g. on the situation in Somalia and the causes of piracy, the responsible captain of the Netherlands Navy testified and the master of the Taipan as well as his second officer also gave evidence. Some of the accused chose to make statements themselves during various stages of the trial, some admitting their participation in the act, while incriminating others, some claiming that they were forced to partake in the attack or at least deceived into participation. While the court was unable to bring to the light how exactly the pirate group conducted the attack, the declarations by the accused led to some insights into the act, although any allegations of force or deceit were held to have been unconvincing, since sufficient evidence pointed to the fact that all of the accused participated voluntarily. Consequently, the court saw an attack on maritime traffic and the abduction for purposes of blackmail as given in this case. The fact that the victims were in the safe room did not prevent the abduction from being successful in a legal sense, since the victims were in fact under the control of the pirates, who controlled the entire vessel.

This led the court to a possible penalty of 5-15 years imprisonment for the adults. In weighing the facts and background of the case to find a just penalty, the court stressed especially the danger of the act, the heavy weaponry used, the damage dealt to the vessel and the high criminal energy, but also the situation in Somalia under which the accused grew up, the fact that the accused were only small fish in a criminal network, the long pre-trial detention periods, the fact that there were no complaints against the accused during this detention and the short duration of the abduction. In doing so, it arrived at substantially shorter penalties than the state attorneys requested in this case.

In its concluding remarks, the court stressed that the trial was surely not able to prevent piracy or deter future perpetrators, but it also underlined that the trial was necessary with regard to the individual perpetrators and in order to communicate to the victims that the crime committed against them was punished. The duration of the trial was certainly longer than necessary. It was criticized by the court that the defense attorneys delayed the trial substantially, which is probably true. Although they merely used the means given to them by German criminal procedural law, some of their requests seemed far-fetched, e.g. the proposal for the court to travel to Somalia to see what life is like there, the proposition, the court should pay bribes in order to obtain witness statements from Somalia, a challenge against the court for bias, because the proceedings started one hour later than originally announced one day, or even the request to lock the captain of the Netherlands Navy, the person responsible for freeing the Taipan, in coercive detention, because he did not give evidence with regard to classified matters.

What remains for the international community? Surely, piracy trials need not last two years to be fair, but this trial shows that granting an effective defense also means trials tend to last longer. Against this backdrop, the ongoing trials in Kenya and the Seychelles, which last only much shorter and which, in case of the Seychelles, have featured one defense attorney for up to 14 accused show what happens when no effective defense is guaranteed. A similarly dramatic contrast is to be found in the way the issue of age was handled in the German trial versus how it is handled in e.g. the Seychelles. While the court in Hamburg went to great lengths to estimate as precise as possible the age of the accused, in the Seychelles, age has up to now not even been a criterion which lead the courts to distinguish between adults and juveniles with regard to the applicable penalties. Expecting the same diligence, which was used in the German proceeding everywhere in the world, would probably be a rule-of-law-overkill, but to some extent the German trial has thrown into sharp relief the conduct of trials elsewhere in the world.


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