Maritime Campaign to Protect Seafarers from Pirates

As a maritime attorney, it has been frustrating for me to see slow progress toward keeping the seas safe for seamen. Last week, Somali pirates killed four Americans after they hijacked a sailboat. Although the four were not on a merchant vessel, their tragic deaths have once again shone the spotlight on how much more we need to do to eliminate the piracy menace. Now, a group of ship-owners and seamen groups are calling on their governments to act quickly to resolve the growing piracy crisis, especially off the coast of Somalia. The campaign, the SOS Save a Seafarers Campaign was launched last week by the International Chamber of Shipping, BIMCO, Intercargo, and the International Transport Workers Federation. The campaign promoters are calling on millions of people all over the world to put pressure on their governments to take more action to thwart Somali piracy. Hundreds of ships have been hijacked, dozens of seamen have been killed, and hundreds of seamen continue to be held hostage due to piracy off the Horn of Africa and the Somali coastline. There is more reason why maritime attorneys and antipiracy groups need to be concerned. Somali pirate groups have recently expanded their scope of operations across the Indian Ocean. For seamen and shipping companies, now there are no more alternate routes to avoid the Somali coastline. Besides, the maritime naval force, which has been patrolling the area of the Somali coastline looking for pirates, is turning out to be a paper tiger. Even when the pirates are captured by naval forces, 80% of them are released, because of a severe lack of facilities to try these criminals in a proper court.

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