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    In this Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012 file photo, masked Somali pirate Hassan stands near a Taiwanese fishing vessel that washed up on shore after the pirates were paid a ransom and released the crew, in the once-bustling pirate den of Hobyo, Somalia.

    Piracy Expert: 'Kidnap Allows Pirates to Exploit the Higher Value on Human Life'

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    Sarah Craze, Pirate history expert, talks to Sputnik about the recent pirate attack and kidnapping in Nigeria.

    Pirates have kidnapped 12 crew members from a Swiss cargo vessel in Nigerian waters.

    Massoel Shipping said its vessel, MV Glarus, was carrying wheat from Lniagos to Port Harcourt when it was attacked on Saturday. The intruders struck 45 nautical miles from Bonny Island in the Niger Delta, taking 12 of the 19 crew hostage.

    A spokesman for Geneva-based Massoel said the pirates had destroyed much of the vessel's communications equipment. Specialists are on route to ensure the hostages' speedy and safe release, the shipping company said.

    Sputnik: Is Africa facing a new wave of piracy?

    Sarah Craze: Africa is a pretty big place so it's not fair on Nigeria government to compare its maritime crime problem to the Somali piracy of 10 years ago. At the moment recent attacks seems to be in Nigeria territorial waters and under Nigeria's jurisdiction. These attacks are occurring as Nigeria is struggling to exert its authority over its waters. I understand the Nigerian government has recently cancelled a contract for services with the navy and that includes the provision for suitable patrol boats, this is creating an ambiguous security situation that lowers the risk of interception or capture, this will have emboldened maritime criminals. If the Nigerian government is unwilling or unable to invest in maritime security waters then we are likely to see more piracy but at moment its restricted to just that area. 

    Sputnik: Why are the pirates choosing to kidnap rather than take cargo?

    Sarah Craze: Kidnap and ransom allows pirates to exploit the higher value of price valued on human life and property, that's their motive. If the cargo is something they are specifically after and they want to use themselves, but taking cargo requires a criminal network that they need to use to dispose of it. That increases the risk of being caught. It's up to the ship's owner to pay the ransom, payments have been shown as a cost effective way to deal with hijack situation, but it also encourages more piracy. Kidnap and ransom the one benefit if you could call it that is it generally means the ship and the crew are kept intact. They will be threatened with violence but they won't necessarily be damaged because their value is in the ransom payments keeping them intact. 

    Sputnik: Is there a need for more security of vessels if they are a continued target?

    Sarah Craze: Well the main problem its security used on ships is armed guards now, that's since the Somali piracy epidemic, that was an effective deterrent to pirates, the problem is its very expensive to pay for it every voyage and it doesn't stop the issue of people becoming pirates in the first place. The issue is a land based problem in stopping the reasons people are becoming pirates. What Nigeria has that Somalia doesn't, is it does have an established government and navy. It does have mechanisms in place to tighten its authorities on its citizens going to sea, so it could manage the situation with political will and possibly international assistance to sure up these mechanisms. Ultimately it's at the ship owners discretion if they want to use armed guards, they are not particularly regulated and there has been alloy of controversy over their use. It comes down to competing interests, the ship owners want to stop the ships being attacked, where the actual problem of piracy needs to be resolved on land then that will stop it occurring at all.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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