Maritime piracy continues to afflict the modern world. Basing their operations in places like Somalia, modern pirates have been able to launch attacks on ships traveling some of the world’s most trafficked waterways. The international community has created an interim prosecution regime that allows domestic courts in the region, notably those in Kenya, to try suspected pirates who are captured in international waters by cooperating navies.
Somali pirates astound because their skiff-mounted attacks on state-of-the-art supertankers repeatedly yield multimillion dollar ransoms, and because they can basically count on getting away with it. Why? Because the legal framework that governs the high seas contains blatant gaps that currently make prosecuting piracy difficult —if not impossible. The result? A deeply frustrated and embarrassed international community and a rising call for engaging pirates on land.