Dutch Navy Re-Take Ship Captured by Pirates

by Julian Ku

Fascinating video  of a Dutch Navy strike team recapturing a German vessel that had been captured by Somali pirates. It shows just how dangerous, expensive, and difficult it is to combat piracy.  It looks cool, but frankly, the Somali pirates have the Dutch and everyone else outnumbered.  There can’t be that many of these kinds of strike teams and there are a lot of Somali pirates.  And the pirates get to head off to the Netherlands for trial, a place much nicer than where they came from.  (UPDATE: See this FP essay which makes this point very persuasively). Still, kudos to the Dutch Navy (actually, I assume it is the Dutch Marines) for doing their part in this Sisyphean battle.


6 Responses

  1. It looks like the video has been taken down. Either way, kudos to the Navy. Us Dutch tend to be a little condescending about our armed forces, who often give the impression that they’re more like social workers than like soldiers, but at least the Navy still does us proud. (The same goes for their efforts in the southern Carribean, joining the Americans in their hunt for drug smugglers.)

  2. What happens to the pirates after trial and (undoubtedly brief) imprisonment in The Netherlands?  It’s hardly likely they will be forced back to Somalia so will they be allowed to stay in the country?  Not quite the punishment fitting the crime; is it?

    The Dutch don’t have a Guantanamo.

  3. @judith weingarten: I’m not sure that they will be taken to the Netherlands at all. Official policy was to do that only with pirates caught doing something against Dutch interest, such as going after a ship that sailed under Dutch flag. Otherwise, the idea was to try to get Kenya to prosecute them, or otherwise to let them go.

    Assuming they do get prosecuted in the Netherlands, the maximum penalty is 12 years for the skipper of the pirate vessel, and 9 years for the sailors on such a ship. (Unless someone gets killed, in which case the maximum is 15 years for the skipper.)

    Realistically, given that this isn’t exactly something that comes up a lot, and given the plausible story of poverty, etc. that the defendants would be able to tell, they’d probably get off with 3-5 years, assuming no one got hurt.

    After their release, the combination of EU and Dutch immigration law and ECHR human rights law will in most cases forbid their expulsion back to Somalia. It used to be policy that everyone from Somalia was automatically categorised as being in danger in case of return, meaning that all Somalians would be entitled to some form of asylum if the Netherlands was the first EU country they managed to reach. That policy has been abolished last year, but in practice the vast majority of Somalians will still be allowed to stay.

  4. So, at the risk of sounding particularly snide, how long would it take a Somali to legitimately immigrate to the Netherlands without being arrested for piracy?

  5. @M. Gross: The problem is getting there. Normally, someone coming from Somalia the cheap way. (i.e. over land or over the Mediterranean) would reach a different EU country first. Once there, normally they’d have to ask for asylum there under the Dublin II Regulation. If, instead, they travel on to the Netherlands through EU territory, they would be sent back to the Member State where they first arrived. (The Regulation has a few exceptions, but “MS where you first arrive” is the default rule, under art. 10-12 of the Regulation.)

    Given the context of your question, though, I’d say this is not the question you’re interested in. The criteria for asylum are mostly based on EU law, with a side of ECHR law, although their application is varies a great deal from one country to another. Particularly countries near the Mediterranean, where many asylum seekers come in, tend to be quite harsh. (In Greece, the acceptance rate is vanishingly small, for example.)

    Either way, given how dangerous Somalia is, the problem isn’t the legality of immigration. The problem is getting over the fence in the first place. (Given the recent Arizona discussion, and the related discussion about what could be done to stop those funny-coloured Mexicans from coming in, you may want to Google Ceuta. They have the grandmother of all border fences.)

  6. Found a working link to the video here:

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