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Policing Maritime Piracy in Southern Africa

NCJ Number
Acta Criminologica Volume: 19 Issue: 3 Dated: 2006 Pages: 180-194
H. Fouche
Date Published
15 pages
This study analyzed pirate attacks on ships in South Africa's territorial waters and examined the nature of policing in a maritime environment.
Section 24 of South Africa's Defence Act of 2002 defines "piracy" as "any illegal act of violence or detention, or any act of depredation committed for private ends by the crew, including the master or the passengers of a private ship and directed on the high seas against another ship or against a ship in a place outside the jurisdiction of any state." Just over half of the recorded pirate attacks in 2005 occurred while the victimized vessels were at anchor. Relatively few attacks occurred in international waters. The three main types of piracy attacks were opportunity theft by persons who gained access to the vessel in port or at anchor, planned robberies while the vessel was at anchor or underway, and the permanent hijacking of ships and cargoes. Planned robberies were often done by organized and well-armed gangs. Permanent hijackings have resulted in crew members being murdered, cast adrift, or held for ransom. The number of hijackings in 2005 increased to 23, the highest since 2002. The number of crew members taken hostage increased to 440, compared to 148 in 2004. The paper concludes that international law on piracy has not kept pace with states being permitted to extend their territory to 200 nautical miles. This paper reviews international law and treaties/conventions pertinent to the policing of piracy and armed robbery against ships. These include the Geneva Convention on the High Seas (1958), the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982), the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, the Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, and the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. A 27-item bibliography