Sunday

23rd Jul 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Juncker: Death penalty will end Turkey's EU bid

Turkish president Erdogan said he would reinstate capital punishment, for people behind last year's failed military coup. But European Commission president Juncker says the move would end Turkey's bid to join the EU.

Cyprus talks up in the air

A week after the failure of negotiations to reunite the islands, Greek Cypriots are calling on Turkish Cypriots to reaffirm their commitment to the process.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Dutch coalition talks lengthiest in 40 years
  2. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  3. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  4. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  5. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  6. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  7. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  8. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary