Draft Anti-Piracy law could prevent acts of piracy in planning stage and protect witnesses

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The Puntland Ministry of Justice, Religious Affairs and Rehabilitation has hosted an online webinar on a draft revision of the Puntland Anti-Piracy Law, as part of a consultation and review process that aims to bring the existing law up to international legal standards.

The proposed revisions include the ability to prosecute for planning an act of piracy, to allow use of modern investigative techniques, and for admissibility of evidence collected in foreign jurisdictions, which are not provided by the original law. It will also include the ability to protect witnesses who give evidence.

The revised law was drafted by interns sponsored by the EU Capacity Building Mission in Somalia (EUCAP Somalia) who are working in the Ministry of Justice, with guidance from EUCAP Somalia legal advisors.

During the webinar the revised law was presented for discussion to prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office (AGO), to police officers from the Puntland Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and to students from the Puntland State University (PSU).

The webinar is the second consultation event following presentation of the revised law to key ministries in Puntland, which took place in March 2020 at a conference organised by the Ministry of Justice, with the support of EUCAP advisors.

EUCAP legal advisor, Dariusz Sielicki, said that bringing the existing anti-piracy law up to international standards, while ensuring compliance with Sharia law, would be crucial for Puntland to deal effectively with maritime crimes.

“The current definition of piracy in the existing law is too narrow and the existing criminal procedure also does not allow for modern investigative techniques, that could prevent attacks before they start,” he said.

Ayan Abdirzak Jama, one of the interns who drafted the law, who is a graduate of PSU, said she believed it would be a step forward in protecting Puntland from piracy. “This law will mean law enforcement officials will be more empowered than they are now to investigate and prosecute pirates,” she said.

It is aimed that further legislative and consultative processes led by the Ministry of Justice, Religious Affairs and Rehabilitation will take place before the draft bill can be finalised and brought before the Puntland Parliament for review and approval.

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