Written statement to Parliament

UK to allocate further funding for work against piracy

Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt has announced a new package of support worth £2.25m to help fight international piracy.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP

In a written statement to Parliament, the Minister said:

I wish to inform the House of how the Government will be allocating funding to support work to reduce the threat to UK and international shipping and tackle the root causes of piracy. Last year saw a dramatic decline in the number of pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia. The UK has been instrumental in achieving this success, though it remains fragile. UK contributions included:

  • playing a leading role in the Contact Group for Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, the foremost international body that addresses piracy in this area;
  • providing support, assets and personnel to international naval operations;
  • funding vital project work to build judicial and maritime capacity throughout the region; and
  • allowing private armed security personnel to be deployed aboard UK ships.

Piracy is not, however, a problem specific to the waters off the coast of Somalia. The last few years have seen a worrying increase in the incidence of piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea. The Government is currently:

  • working with industry and international partners to establish the Maritime Trade Information Sharing Centre for the Gulf of Guinea, which will facilitate information sharing and act as an early warning system for vessels in the area;
  • assisting the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) to help them to develop and implement their Integrated Maritime Strategy; and
  • working with West African states to improve their maritime capacity so that they may police their own coastal waters.

In South East Asia, the UK acceded to the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) on 12 May 2012. The Government hopes to use the UK’s membership of the ReCAAP to protect trade routes, ensure the welfare of the seafarers who pass through the area, and prevent criminals from profiting from piracy and armed robbery at sea.

The Government is committed to continuing the fight against piracy and maritime insecurity wherever it may occur.

To this end, I am pleased to announce a new a package of support worth £2.25m for the work of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, with whom we are working in close partnership to deliver capacity building assistance. This includes:

  • $1.135m of additional funding to the UNODC’s Post Trial Transfer Programme, to complete the construction of a new prison in Garowe, Puntland, to hold convicted pirates in facilities that meet international standards. Prison capacity remains one of the biggest challenges we face in bringing pirates to justice and it is essential that we provide a targeted, long term solution.
  • A $100,000 project to tackle corruption in the Somali penal system. As UNODC continue the process of transferring pirates back to Somalia, we face the risk that convicted pirates may seek to secure early release by the paying bribes to prison staff. The project will extend existing anti-corruption awareness training from Garowe prison to all the prisons in Somalia holding piracy prisoners.
  • A $240,000 project to develop the Somali coast guard. Supporting UNODC work with the maritime authorities in Mogadishu, Puntland and Somaliland to begin the process of securing Somalia’s coastline.

The funding will also allow UNODC to continue its work with regional partners.

  • The UK will contribute $250,000 to assist UNODC in building a Vulnerable Prisoners Unit in the Seychelles to handle Somali pirates who cannot be housed with the general prison population, further developing the Seychelles’ capacity to play a vital regional role in tackling piracy and in direct support of the joint UK/Seychelles RAPPICC initiative.
  • In Mauritius, UK support will provide $800,000 funding for a brand new and much-needed facility equipped to handle piracy prosecutions; helping to spread the burden of prosecution across regional States.

The funding also includes $660,000 towards UNODC’s overall Counter Piracy Programme costs.

Finally, the UK will also provide funding for two other areas of bilateral support in pursuit of counter piracy objectives: $200,000 for the work of the Trust Fund of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia and $160,000 for bespoke projects in Mauritius in support of the memorandum of understanding agreed at the London Conference last year.

Published 21 January 2013