Should merchant ships transiting high risk areas carry small arms for defense against pirates?

Selected crew should be trained and have guns available
Professional armed security teams should be hired
No guns on merchant ships, ever

June 19, 2009

INTERPOL joins fight against piracy

INTERPOL resources are now being used in the battle against piracy.

INTERPOL is the world's largest international police organization, with 187 member countries. It facilitates cross-border police cooperation, and supports and assists all organizations, authorities and services whose mission is to prevent or combat crime.

The General Secretariat is located in Lyon, France. INTERPOL operates seven regional offices-- in Argentina, Cameroon, Cte d'Ivoire, El Salvador, Kenya, Thailand and Zimbabwe--and a representative office at the United Nations in New York ant at the European Union in Brussels. Each member country maintains a National Central Bureau (NCB).

In an address to the G-8 Justice and Interior Ministers' meeting in Rome in May, INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble called for greater law enforcement involvement in the fight against piracy and said that this could provide the "missing link" to fill the gap between the arrests made through military interventions and any eventual prosecutions.

In response to that call, police information to identify suspected pirates has now been shared with the global policing community by the Seychelles and Kenya.

INTERPOL's Seychelles National Central Bureau (NCB) in Victoria has provided the General Secretariat headquarters with details, including fingerprints and photographs, of 23 detained Somali nationals who are suspected of piracy.

Entered into INTERPOL's global databases, this information can be accessed by any of its 187 member countries and will provide a reference point for any potential matches of suspects arrested in the future.

In addition, INTERPOL's Executive Director of Police Services, Jean-Michel Louboutin is this week holding a series of high-level meetings with senior law enforcement and government officials in Kenya. As a result, Kenya has agreed to send the photographs and fingerprints of more than 100 individuals who have been arrested and convicted in connection with maritime piracy.

Discussions also focused on the proposed creation of an international platform to bring together police officers from INTERPOL's NCB and its Regional Bureau in Kenya as well as national investigators and prosecutors. Equipped with direct access to INTERPOL's secure global police communications network I-24/7 and its global databases, the platform would facilitate international police investigations and subsequent prosecutions.

"Sound investigative police work is key to effectively combating maritime piracy. Without systematically collecting photographs, fingerprints and DNA profiles of arrested pirates and comparing them internationally, it is simply not possible to establish their true identity or to make connections which would otherwise be missed," said Mr Louboutin.

"INTERPOL's global databases are uniquely suited to support Kenya, and other countries facing the threat of maritime piracy, in their efforts to investigate and prosecute offenders and it is the only way to ensure that vital information is shared globally."

Mr. Louboutin praised the decision by the Seychelles and Kenyan authorities to share the names and fingerprints of recently arrested pirates.

"This is an important first step by INTERPOL member countries in developing an effective law enforcement response to maritime piracy and is an example of good practice that we recommend all other countries to adopt," concluded Mr Louboutin.

As the world's largest police organization INTERPOL maintains global databases including those on suspected terrorists, international fugitives, Stolen and Lost Travel Documents, fingerprints and DNA profiles.

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