Sunday

28th May 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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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.

Nato head defends 'blunt' US leader

Nato chief Stoltenberg defended Trump’s behaviour at Thursday’s summit. The prime minister of Montenegro also apologised for him.

Trump lukewarm on Nato joint defence

Trump voiced half-hearted support for Nato and reprimanded allies over what he called unpaid debts on his maiden trip to Europe.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms