Signs of progress or another bunch of bandits?

There may be signs of progress in the fight to stop Somali piracy in the only way possible – by imposing the law inside Somalia. Or is this simply one bunch of bandits coming out on top?

The Puntland government anti-piracy force freed the remaining crew of MV Iceberg 1 less than three weeks ago after three years held captive. Swift justice has ensued. Today we hear that a court in Puntland has sentenced three of the pirates to jail.

It’s great that the crew is at last free and home. It is shameful that it took so long to free them. The vessel was owned in the Emirates. It was reportedly not insured. Is there not enough money in the Emirates to help with a small problem like that? Especially as Emirati money was used to train Puntland forces, who until now have been ineffective – even some reports say – chaotic and criminal themselves.

It is great that swift court action has been taken. Pirates taken by international naval patrols languish in Kenyan and Seychellois jails awaiting trials which never happen.

But let’s not get too excited. The legitimacy of the Puntland government and its forces is not at all clear. They represent powerful local clans, not any central state. Piracy won’t stop until international action helps Somalia to become a stable state with enforceable laws.

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