Vienna, 27 September - On World Maritime Day, UNODC stresses the importance of tackling piracy off the Horn of Africa at its source: on dry land. Based on UNODC's data, US$170 million was paid in ransoms last year, while around US$25 to US$30 million has been paid so far in 2012. The average payment made to pirates is US$5 million.
Ransom money inevitably finds its way into the world's licit financial systems and has a destabilizing effect on the region's economies. Countries in the Horn of Africa face steep price rises, and proceeds are being reinvested in other transnational crimes such as weapons smuggling, and human and drug trafficking.
UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov said, "Piracy is also an issue of social and economic development as well as the rule of law and security. This means adding UNODC's expertise on drugs and crime and terrorism to the overall promotion of democratic development of countries in the region. We have to raise awareness of the dangers, while also offering alternative lifestyles for the young men enticed into going to sea".
UNODC focuses on developing fair and efficient trials for the pirates, as well as securing imprisonment of piracy suspects in the region. In Hargaisa, Somaliland, for example, a model prison, has been built and a prison academy in Puntland is also being constructed. UNODC's Piracy Prisoner Transfer Programme is ensuring that convicted pirates are returned to Somalia to serve their sentences.
To prevent the proceeds of piracy being laundered, UNODC's Global Programme against Money Laundering assists law enforcement and financial intelligence units to prevent the movement of cash. By doing so, it is seeking to deny the profits of piracy to the pirates.
UNODC is currently implementing an ambitious advocacy programme reaching out to Somali youth. The advocacy programme liaises with community leaders, politicians, religious leaders. TV, radio and print media in order to make young people aware of the dangers of piracy.
Commenting on UNODC's overall approach, Mr. Fedotov said, "We must ensure fair and efficient trials in line with international human rights standards, while also providing assistance for the imprisonment. of pirates within the region. However, our work cannot stop there. Pirates must be denied access to their profits. Young people in the region also need to be offered alternatives to a dangerous life at sea. The logic is simple: no pirates, no piracy".
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