22 February 2012 - Security Council - Somalia - Statement by Mr Emmanuel Bonne, Political Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations
I would like to thank Ms. O’Brien and Mr. Fedotov for their presentations. I would also thank the Secretary-General for his report (S/2012/50).
For several years now, the Council has regularly discussed the scourge of piracy along the Somali coast. When Mr. Jack Lang presented his report on the legal issues related to piracy in early 2011, there was a general sense of urgency. Today, on the eve of the major conference that will be held tomorrow in London, the diagnosis remains the same. According to statistics, the number of attacks against ships along the Somali coast reached record levels in 2011. It is true that the number and success rate of such attacks have decreased over the past few months, but at what price?
We cannot continue indefinitely to support the immense security efforts that our naval forces provide in the waters of the region. The pirates are shifting their base of action by virtue of our presence, while crews taken hostage are used as human shields and are increasingly led to land. In other terms, there has yet to be a structural improvement. Moreover, there is no credible solution for enticing young Somalis towards other activities. Nor — and this is the subject of today’s discussion — has there been a consistent, effective judicial response.
Why do we still lack an operational legal strategy? Today’s two briefings gave us the answer.
The first obstacle, which is enormous, is the absence of Somali legislation. It is not possible to construct an entire, efficient anti-piracy system in the region and to organize legal cooperation without adequate Somali legislation. The road map called upon the Federal Transitional Government to adopt such legislation before 18 May 2012. Today we are told that the prospects for new legislation will be better after the end of the transition period, when a new Parliament will have been seated. We find that information troubling, as it represents a new delay in drafting legislation. Our message to the Somali authorities on this issue is therefore be clear: progress must be made.The legal framework in Puntland and Somaliland are no longer operational, according to the Secretary-General’s report. One need not read between the lines to understand that the legislative effort needed to address the scope of the problem has not been made.
The second obstacle concerns Somali legal capacities. We all rightly advocate a Somali solution, but the Secretary-General’s report is unambiguous. The shortage and poor training of legal professionals, and the security situation, including in Puntland and Somaliland, limits the possibilities for such capacity building.
Given such challenges, Mr. Jack Lang proposed a bold solution that involved creating a specialized Somali court that would be temporarily located elsewhere, either in Arusha, as Tanzania has agreed, or somewhere else. I understand that there is a proposal from Qatar on the table. There is a need to at last take a practical decision. In the absence of a Somali court abroad, we are in effect forcing the countries of the region to bear the lion’s share of the legal work. Kenya, Tanzania, Seychelles and Mauritius should be commended for their contribution. We will carefully consider the Secretariat’s proposals for capacitybuilding in those countries and for creating specialized courts where none exist. However, it is unreasonable to think that the countries of the regions can alone address the full breadth of the problem. Let us not lose sight of the Somalian solution. It continues to be relevant.
We estimate that 75 per cent of the pirates captured are released without prosecution. Others have estimated the rate is 40 per cent. The Secretariat, in its report, has proposed a study on the scope and root causes of this phenomenon, but to us it seems sufficient to read the report, which explains the legal uncertainties, to understand the reason for this phenomenon.
The adoption of effective Somali legislation must be a priority. All relevant actors, including the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime, must follow up on that issue and, if necessary, call on the Council in the event that new obstacles appear. Again, without the necessary legislation, we can build nothing sustainable.
Our efforts must also focus on strengthening judicial and prison capacities, not just on the latter aspect. France believes we must sustain a genuine Somalization of the judicial treatment of piracy, which cannot be boiled down to building more prison capacity in Somaliland and Puntland.
Beyond the training of judges and legal professionals, as is being undertaken by UNDP with support from France, we believe it may be useful to provide assistance to prosecutors in building cases. The centre in Seychelles must maintain direct contact with the Somali authorities. Without engaging international judges or prosecutors, it is still possible to dispatch advisors to work with Somali magistrates, while taking due account of security issues. These advisors may not reside permanently in Somalia. We are ready to work with members of the Council and the Secretariat to make rapid and concrete progress.