THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Rear Adm. James Foggo, deputy commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, arrived in The Hague, Netherlands Dec. 14, to speak at a international workshop dedicated to the creation of a unified manual to use when investigating and prosecuting acts of maritime piracy.
Foggo was invited to speak at the workshop by the European Law Enforcement Agency (EUROPOL) and presented the audience with a military operations perspective on acts of maritime piracy.
“Recent trends by Somali-based pirates to extend the scope, magnitude, and territory of their illegal acts is negatively impacting commerce and restricting freedom of navigation for all the maritime nations,” said Foggo. “Just in the last week we monitored a pirate attack within more than one thousand nautical miles from the Somali coast in a pirate skiff operation supported by what we would call an afloat forward staging base in U.S. Navy vernacular, or more simply, a pirate ‘mother ship.’ This highlights the fact that resolutions of the Somali piracy problem requires international cooperation and action. And this is exactly what you are doing in this collaboration between EUROPOL, Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) and U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).”
The workshop was attended by representatives from EUROPOL, SOCA, NCIS and police investigators and analysts from 11 different countries. The goal of the workshop was to finalize relevant issues regarding unified investigative standards and make a manual available for the international law enforcement community.
Foggo spoke about the importance of a unified manual and the difficulties the military faces when dealing with international laws concerning piracy, particularly the legal issues faced when prosecuting pirates.
“A number of reasons make prosecution of crimes on the high seas complex,” he said. “First, a nation must generally have jurisdiction, or ‘legal authority,’ over the person or the crime. Many nations do not have legislation that is sufficiently robust to successfully address piracy crimes. Even when legislation is adequate, the nature of the maritime environment presents issues when multiple nations are able to assert jurisdiction, such as the nation of the flag of the vessel or the nation(s) of the crew.”
He also spoke about the impact a large-scale prosecution of pirates could have for smaller or developing countries and how that could in effect, discourages poorer countries from prosecuting piracy crimes and encourages pirates to attack these countries.
“Military action is necessary but not sufficient. This is where all of you come in,” said Foggo and he challenged the audience to continue their work in a collaborative and whole of international Government’s way.
“Piracy is a global issue not bound by borders, languages or politics,” said NCIS Special Agent Samuel Worth, one of the event organizers. “That is precisely why it is all the more critical we in the law enforcement agencies around the world come together as we have this week in The Hague to share our experiences, ideas, expertise and our common determination to developing a investigating standard for combating maritime piracy.”
Worth also mentioned that this type of celebrative effort is what they have done for years all across the globe.
“Whether we are working together on a sensitive investigation or joining resources for combined training we have always worked together,” said Worth. “We are bound by our badges and oaths to uphold the law of our lands and protect our fellow citizens. No less is required of us in this fight against maritime piracy.”
While in The Hague, Foggo also conducted office calls with senior military and government officials from the Netherlands Ministry of Defense, the U.S. Embassy and he met with the Japanese Ambassador to the Netherlands to celebrate His Majesty the Emperor of Japan’s birthday before returning to Naples, Italy, Dec. 15.