Seychelles government rejects allegations that ‘the islands have also become popular with pirates’

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Flag of the Seychelles
Flag of the Seychelles

Seychelles has 1.4 million square kilometres of ocean as part of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and 115 islands, and there is no evidence that the islands are being used by pirates or frequented by pirates in the way that the paper suggests. Seychelles immediate territorial waters are safe, and there have been no pirate attacks within this area. However the Seychelles’ EEZ has been threatened by piracy on numerous occasions; it covers a vast expanse of water.

Furthermore the Seychelles government has not made any “deals with the pirates which would allow them to operate as long as they do not affect the interests of the Seychelles,” as alleged by the newspaper. The frequency of attacks which have had a direct economic impact on the Seychelles economy resulting in a 30% reduction in port activity, make any such claims completely illogical. The Seychelles government treats the issue of piracy as an activity which is a direct threat to its wellbeing and sovereignty and is a committed partner in the fight against piracy in the region.

The interests of Seychelles are to ensure the security of its citizens, as well as the two main pillars of its economy; tourism and fishing. Therefore the Seychelles would never allow criminal gangs, such Somali pirate groups to operate in its waters, and thus endangering the lives and livelihood of the Seychellois people.

The release of 11 suspected pirates that the article refers to was effected due to the lack of evidence to arrest and charge them. Seychelles has acted within the parameters of international law and human rights considerations. It is to be noted that many nations have released suspected pirates at sea in this manner due to lack of evidence, and the Seychelles’ forces actions are consistent with those of other partners in similar circumstances.

Equally in relation to the Seychelles repatriation of 23 pirates in September, their release was in relation to the lack of formal evidence allowing prosecution. Seychelles does not detain people indefinitely, as this is against their human rights and against international law. There was insufficient evidence to try them for charges of piracy in Seychelles courts, and following this they had to be released. They could not be released in Seychelles as they were prohibited immigrants, and therefore had to be deported by a special flight to Somalia (no scheduled flights exist). Therefore no ‘understanding’ was reached with the pirates.

It is to be noted also, that the Republic of Kenya, and the Republic of Seychelles are the only countries that have attempted to take pirates for the purpose of prosecution in the region.

Somalia is rife with rumour, as is the security community that the articles refer to. However these rumours are set against a background of conflict, criminality and political instability.

Seychelles has made every effort to combat piracy in the region. Since February President James Michel has been working to develop military cooperation with international partners with the aim of creating a surveillance hub for international forces in Seychelles.

This has included the stationing of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in Seychelles by the US. Seychelles has pursued anti-piracy operations in active cooperation with NATO, EU, Russian, Chinese, and US Naval Forces in the region.

The Seychelles government considers that long term solutions lies in Somalia and it is committed to support all initiatives that aim to bring peace and stability back to Somalia.

Source: Republic of Seychelles – Office of the President

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