Monday

26th Aug 2019

EU studying links between Italian mafia and Somalian pirates

  • Potts: said private security firms are playing a big part in stopping pirates (Photo: conslium.europa.eu)

The EU special envoy for Somalia is looking into a fresh report that pirates are in business with Italian gangsters on toxic waste.

The Paris-based criminologist, Michel Koutouzis, who carries out investigations for the UN and for EU institutions, described the problem in a new book - Crime, Trafficking and Networks - published in May.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

He said organised crime groups in south Italy - the Camorra, 'Ndranghetta and La Sacra Corona Unita - supply Somalian warlords with black market small arms from the Western Balkans in return for permission to dump waste.

"Tonnes of waste are discharged every year off the coasts of Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea under the noses of countless warships which control sea freight in the Read Sea and the Gulf of Aden," he explained.

He noted that part of the income - worth "hundreds of millions of euros a year" - is laundered via the tourist industry in Kenya and Tanzania.

He added the practice has been going on for years: a UN report in 2005 said the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami broke up deposits of lead, cadmium and mercury as well as hospital and chemical waste, which washed up on the shore near the coastal towns of Hobbio and Benadir, killing some 300 people.

Speaking to press in Brussels on Tuesday (19 June), the EU's special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Alexander Rondos, a former Greek diplomat, said the book has come to his attention.

"It has been passed on to people who are better equipped than I am to look into it ... people are checking into it," he said.

"We need to find out who is funding them [Somalian privateers]. They are part of a much bigger problem we face in the Indian Ocean - the globalisation of organised crime. Investigations are under way."

British rear admiral Duncan L. Potts, who commands the EU's anti-piracy mission, Atalanta, said a new Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecution and Intelligence Co-ordination Centre - which aims to target pirates' financial activities - is "getting off the ground" in the Seychelles.

He added that he has no hard evidence on the Italian link, however.

For his part, Koutouzis, in an interview in his home in Paris last Friday, told this website: "Of course they know about it. But they don't want to do anything."

Potts noted that Atalanta seems to have turned a corner in terms of stopping attacks.

Pirates seized 28 vessels in the first half of 2011, but just three in the second half of last year and five so far this year.

Seven ships and over 200 passengers and crew are currently being held for ransom. Some of them have been held for more than 18 months in "awful conditions" and are in bad health.

Potts attributed the turnaround in part to an "exponential" increase in the use of private security firms by commercial shipping.

More than half of the 50,000-or-so vessels which pass through the region each year carry their own guards.

Their activities are regulated under the laws of the country where the ship is registered, in many cases Liberia or Panama.

"At the more responsible end of the market ... they fire warning shots and then four or five targeted shots to show that the ship is armed," Potts said.

He did not have figures on how many pirates have been killed by private companies.

He noted that Atalanta plays the role of a "constabulary" rather than doing "war-fighting."

He added that "to his knowledge" troops under his command have not killed a single pirate in three and half years of operations.

Somalia security forces to get EU training

Europe's foreign affairs ministers on Monday decided to send some 100 military personnel to train Somali security forces, following a request by the transitional government in Mogadishu.

Opinion

EU firms should stop toxic dumping off Somalia

The EU should stop European companies from dumping toxic waste in Somalian seas before sending in warships to protect oil tankers if it wants to support moral claims for the Atalanta anti-piracy mission, Somali-born chemist Abdimajid Osman says.

EU to pledge Africa security funds at G7 summit

The focus at the G7 summit will most likely narrow down to the global economy and foreign affairs, but the EU is also set to make a number of pledges on transparency and fighting diseases.

News in Brief

  1. Ocean Viking to disembark in Malta after ordeal
  2. Germany joins France in world outcry on Brazil fires
  3. British people lose faith in Brexit deal
  4. Brexit hardliners want further changes to EU deal
  5. German manufacturers confirm fear of recession
  6. Belgian socialists and liberals scrap over EU post
  7. Fall in EU migration leading to UK skills shortages
  8. Switzerland makes post-Brexit flight preparations

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Analysis

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

"If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!", US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Spain heading for yet another general election
  2. EU to discuss Brazil beef ban over Amazon fires
  3. 'Our house is burning,' Macron says on Amazon fires
  4. What happens when trafficking survivors get home
  5. EU states and Russia clash on truth of WW2 pact
  6. EU considers new rules on facial recognition
  7. EU to pledge Africa security funds at G7 summit
  8. Letter from the EESC on per diem article

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us