Hama Tuma, Ethiopian author, poet and journalist, has been active in the political and human rights struggle in Ethiopia and Africa since the sixties. His satirical essays under the general title of African Absurdities have gained support from many quarters. Some of his books (English and Amharic) have been translated to French, Italian and Hebrew.

The Other Afrik - Netherlands - Panafrica - Somalia - Satire
Antique Dutch law for Somali pirates: Could this be the way out?
Some people accuse us old guards of not adopting new ways and new solutions even to old and persistent problems and I think it is perhaps high time we considered novel approaches and solutions to deal with those stubborn problems that have refused to leave us. Here, the first of a three part series of some of our problems and what could be a possible way out.

First is the ongoing attempt to try alleged Somali pirates in the courts of Holland. The use of a 17th century Dutch law against piracy to curb the cancer of the Gulf of Aden is only proper if we consider that it takes a notorious pirate to deal with another.

Read the series

- Part One: Antique Dutch law for Somali pirates: Could this be the way out?

- Part Two: Ethiopian government goes bankrupt: Could this be the way out?

- Part Three: Ethiopian asceticism from India: Could this be the way out?

The Dutch were not only pirates but responsible for introducing foul racism to many parts of Africa, being the mothers of Apartheid. In Ethiopia, where we rush to point out that we have never been colonized, our serious taste of racism came from the Dutch who ran the Wonji sugar factory.

The Dutch were once ingenious pirates and since it takes one to identify one, they have become the best placed to identify Somali pirates. The question of human rights and a Dutch court that does not even pretend to use the international tag while trying practically kidnapped/captured citizens of another country is neither here nor there.

Somalis have no State to speak for them and they are, by virtue of their own acts, exposed to be tried or punished by any State that lays their hands on them.

As for the invocation of an antique law to which no Somali was signatory, it is only fair to argue that it gives impetus to the hard line Islamists who invoke old Salafist edicts to stone or murder people. This leaves no moral ground for complaint on either side.

But with most African courts crippled by ineptitude and bureaucracy, isn’t transferring our cases to Europe and America a simple way to untangle our legal problems?

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