Universal Jurisdiction

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Prosecuting pirates in national courts: US v Said and piracy under US law

On August 17, a US District Court handed down a fascinating piece of statutory interpretation that apparently means that unless a Somali pirate succeeds in stealing something, he cannot be charged with piracy under US law. There have been a number of national piracy trials taking place in Western States, notably in the US and the Netherlands. (I have written on piracy trials in Kenya elsewhere.) In the Netherlands a group of Somali pirates was sentenced to five years in prison. I have not seen either the judgement in Dutch or a summary of it in any other language yet. (If you have it, do let me know). In New York, the young Somali suspect pirate Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse, sole survivor of the gang that attempted to hijack the Maersk Alabama, entered a guilty plea in a deal that removed piracy from the charges against him. This leaves US v Said et al, the trial of 11 suspects before the US District Court in Norfolk, Virginia who were…

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UK to Restrict Universal Jurisdiction Laws (but only slightly)

The UK government has announced recently that it plans to introduce legislation which would somewhat restrict the application of universal jurisdiction in the UK. The proposed rules do not restrict the scope of universal jurisdiction in the UK but will affect the possibility of private persons obtaining an arrest warrant in relation to universal jurisdiction crimes. The statement released…

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Anti-Piracy Court Opens in Kenya

At the end of last week, Kenya opened a special court to try suspected pirates operating from Somalia in the Gulf of Aden (see BBC Report here and here) The Court, which is funded by a number of international organizations and States including the UN, the EU, Australia and Canada, is a significant step in the fight against piracy.

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Piracy off Somalia: a sketch of the legal framework

Dr Douglas Guilfoyle is a Lecturer in Law at University College London.  His research has focussed on the law of the sea and international and transanational criminal law. He is the author of ‘Piracy Off Somalia: UN Security Council Resolution 1816 and IMO Regional Counter-Piracy Efforts’ (2008) 57 International and Comparative Law Quarterly 690-699. His book Shipping Interdiction…

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