Despite the active political efforts by the international community and the presence of naval forces of several States, including some European States, off the coast of Somalia, acts of piracy and armed robbery in this region continue to pose a serious threat to seafarers and passengers as well as they bring damage to the safety of shipping and lead to substantial economic losses for many States. According to experts, total damage caused by the current piracy amounts to billions of dollars, including expenses for strengthening protection of ships, huge growth of expenses for insurance of ships and cargoes as well as overseas transportation of cargoes by longer shipping routes. About 20 000 cargo ships annually follow the seaways between Europe, Asia and Africa, including through the Gulf of Aden, carrying almost 30 % of oil and gas for European needs.
Last year alone the Somali pirates attacked merchant ships more that 100 times and hijacked 35 of them. According to different sources, during one year they managed to get 120-150 million dollars of ransom payments. These payments are inter alia aimed at purchasing arms and updating means of hijacking merchant ships. Experts do not exclude that part of the above payments is used to support terrorism and extremism. Pirate attacks pose a special threat to deliveries of international humanitarian aid to the countries of Eastern Africa, including Somalia. High probability of oil tankers' explosions during the pirates' attacks poses a serious ecological threat to the region, especially in cases when ships carry dangerous chemical and radioactive materials.
Clauses of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982, the Convention on the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Maritime Transport of 1988, the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime of 2000, as well as the UN Security Council resolutions 1816, 1838, 1846 and 1851 have created a sufficient legal basis to establish international co-operation aiming at fighting piracy near the Somali coast. Nevertheless, the States involved in active operations against piracy, when calling the arrested people to account, have to face a certain number of legal, administrative and technical problems that sometimes lead to the refusal of legal prosecution against pirates.
In view of this matter it is important for the Parliamentary Assembly to discuss of efficiently supporting these efforts with the aim to establish a special mechanism (international or with international participation) of legal prosecution of persons suspected of piracy.