Turning the Tide on Piracy, Building Somalia's Future: Follow-up report on the EU's Operation Atalanta and beyond - European Union Committee Contents

Conclusions and Recommendations

68.  Containment of piracy has to remain the primary aim of the current mandate of Operation Atalanta. Nonetheless, elimination must be the longer term goal. This can be achieved only through the stabilisation of Somalia. The new EU Horn of Africa strategy and its CSDP missions are a welcome, but modest, step towards that goal. (Paragraph 11)

69.  We welcome the growing involvement of African institutions, such as the African Union (AU), in the resolution of regional issues and we call on the EU, through its Head of Mission and Special Representative, to continue to build a strong relationship with the AU. (Paragraph 12)

70.  It is widely recognised that Operation Atalanta has been a success, but under current political conditions in Somalia, any reduction in effort will quickly result in a renewed upsurge of pirate activity. There is therefore a need for sustained commitment by the EU. (Paragraph 19)

71.  The mandate of Operation Atalanta should be extended beyond December 2014. This would send a clear signal to those organisations and individuals that organise piracy that the EU will not walk away from confronting piracy in the Indian Ocean. (Paragraph 20)

72.  Despite the evidence we received recommending that Operation Atalanta should undertake greater protection of Somali fishery grounds, we do not believe that the mission can undertake this additional role as well as protecting shipping. This task should be taken up by another organisation. (Paragraph 21)

73.  Although most of the Committee's previous concerns about capability shortfalls have been addressed, problems remain about the Operation's ability to conduct surveillance over such a vast area, given that the piracy has spread so far into the Indian Ocean. We commend in particular the role of the Seychelles in making that broad operational cover far more effective than when we published our earlier report. (Paragraph 22)

74.  However, the speed with which intelligence gathered in operational centres is transmitted to interested parties is a problem. This must be remedied. (Paragraph 23)

75.  We note with satisfaction the high degree of practical cooperation which has evolved since our last report between the very varied international anti-piracy operations and national navies in the Indian Ocean. This includes Russia, China and India. (Paragraph 24)

76.  We welcome also the strong spirit of practical cooperation between different international operations located in operational centres such as the Seychelles. This should act as a model for military cooperation in other theatres, especially EU-NATO cooperation. (Paragraph 25)

77.  Given the appreciation of the UK's leadership of this naval operation we recommend strongly that the Government should continue in this role at the next review. UK leadership of Atalanta is effective and it brings credit to the UK. (Paragraph 27)

78.  It would be desirable for the UK to increase its contribution of vessels to Operation Atalanta. However, we recognise the financial constraints and consider that its command role is a compensation for its limited contribution of vessels. (Paragraph 28)

79.  We welcome the EU Atalanta attack on the pirate land base as an effective demonstration to the pirates that they are not invulnerable on land. (Paragraph 32)

80.  We have revised our view on the carriage of armed guards on ships in the light of the fact that no ships carrying armed guards have so far been successfully pirated and violence has apparently not escalated. We now believe that this practice should continue, provided that the guards are properly trained to a high standard to avoid accidental injury to innocent seafarers, and accredited. The Government and the EU High Representative should so advise all EU Member States. (Paragraph 38)

81.  The programme of agreements for judicial process with countries of the region has been successfully initiated, but now needs to be pursued vigorously. The Seychelles appears so far to be bearing a heavier burden than other countries and steps should be taken to ease the pressure on the Seychelles. (Paragraph 47)

82.  We have some doubts about the wisdom of transferring sentenced pirates back to Somalia. This policy should be pursued with caution, ensuring that all pirate prisons are staffed by personnel who are properly trained and equipped to prevent breakouts. The EU should work with the UN to monitor these prisons. (Paragraph 48)

83.  We have concerns about the difference in quality between UN constructed pirate prisons and local prisons, which must lead to problems for the countries concerned, but we see no way of avoiding the problem as the international community is unlikely in the foreseeable future to pay to upgrade all the prisons in the countries affected. (Paragraph 49)

84.  We accept fully that imprisonment should be seen as a very real deterrent but the agencies involved should introduce some measure of rehabilitation for those convicted for piracy, particularly for younger prisoners. (Paragraph 50)

85.  We reiterate our previous conclusion in our 2009 report that those involved in assembling ransoms in the United Kingdom have a duty to seek consent for its payment and that not to do so, if necessary by filing a Suspicious Activity Report, may result in the commission of a criminal offence. We request that the Government now respond substantively to this recommendation. (Paragraph 51)

86.  We welcome the involvement of China in countering piracy off the Horn of Africa as evidence of their increasing cooperation with the international community. (Paragraph 54)

87.  We believe that a greater effort should be made to involve the Gulf States in solving the problems of both piracy and the situation in Somalia, given their close links with Somalia and their evident interest in keeping the shipping lanes clear. (Paragraph 55)

88.  We commend the High Representative's efforts to formulate a comprehensive plan for the EU's activity in the Horn of Africa by encompassing all the EU's activity under the Strategy for the Horn of Africa. (Paragraph 59)

89.  The EU's Training Mission for Somali security forces in Uganda (EUTM Somalia) has produced useful results and should be continued. The EU should pay attention to the retention of these forces with continuing stipends for those who have been trained. (Paragraph 60)

90.  The aim of the new EUCAP Nestor mission to improve the capabilities of the coastal states of East Africa will be one of the most significant developments in combating piracy from the land. It should be built up to strength as soon as possible and supported in its development. EUCAP Nestor could and should be the gateway to a permanent solution to Somali piracy. (Paragraph 61)

91.  The EU's development aid will continue to be necessary for the foreseeable future. It should focus on providing alternative livelihoods for the Somali people to assist with reducing the need felt by some Somalis to resort to piracy. It should also aim to develop Somali capacity, thereby reducing aid dependency in the longer term. (Paragraph 66)

92.  We commend the support given by the EU to AMISOM, which is aiming to remove the threat of Al Shabaab and improve the security of the Somali people. (Paragraph 67)

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