The warships involved in anti-piracy operations will normally have a lawyer on board the ship and any operation will involve a legal consultation. The factors considered for a possible prosecution include cost, the quality of the evidence and the operational impact.
Where and who?
The Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean have become some of the most dangerous waters in the world because of the Somalian pirates. Three naval operations are tasked with combating piracy: a Nato force; a combined taskforce involving the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Pakistan and other countries; and Navfor, an EU force.
Which leads to
A Nato spokesman said this weekend that it did not have any mandate to arrest and detain pirates, only to disrupt their activities. It was a decision for the commander of each vessel on what do with captives. The combined taskforce has a similar policy.
Somalian pirates who are terrorising yachts and cargo ships in the Indian Ocean are being routinely allowed to go free by international naval forces despite being captured with their weapons and even holding hostages.
Pirates who are seized from the skiffs by the Royal Navy and other maritime forces are pleasantly surprised to find themselves being offered life jackets, medical checks and hot food. They are then often set free, either because they have not been captured “in the act of piracy” or because of the risk that they would claim asylum if prosecuted in Europe.
More than 340 suspected Somalian pirates have been captured in anti-piracy operations over the past year and subsequently released on the advice of lawyers. Some have been disembarked on African beaches because of concerns over the seaworthiness of their vessels.
Just effing wonderful, isn't it?