Maritime piracy is an illegal act of violence, detention or robbery committed on a private ship for personal gain or revenge on the high seas
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982 describes maritime piracy among other definitions to include,
- Any illegal acts of violence or detention or any act of depredation, committed for private ends on the high seas against another ship or aircraft or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft.
- Or against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any state.
Not all pirate attacks are for monetary gains as some attacks can be triggered by feelings of hatred or revenge against a ship. Usually if an attack is carried out by a ships own crew it may not referred to as piracy.
Each state has the right to deal with any pirate attack that occurs within its national jurisdiction as each state is responsible to put in measures to curtail such acts in its territorial waters.
In this regards , if any arrest is made in a particular country’s territorial waters, such country has jurisdiction over the pirates hence its courts may determine the appropriate action to be taken.
International maritime regulations do not permit commercial vessels to carry guns on board ships and this has made the act of piracy so easy to carry out. In Somalia for instance which is one of the hotspots for this acts, a gang of just four with a rented boat and equipped with a ladder and AK-47s can attack a big commercial vessel with a crew of about 13.
Modern ships in an attempt to counter pirate attacks have adopted certain strategies one of which is the use of sonic devices. This device when targeted at the pirates sends strong and powerful sounds that could burst the eardrums as well as shock the attackers forcing them to give up.
In the nutshell, piracy is an international crime in which all nations may exercise jurisdiction over pirates regardless of the nationality of the ship or pirates and therefore ships involved in this act are subject to seizure by any state.
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