Sri Lanka considers sea piracy as a serious security problem which must be addressed and dealt with forcefully, Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem said.
Hakeem, president of the 50th annual session of Annual Asian African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO), said at the 51st annual session in Abuja, Nigeria, the escalation of sea piracy attacks in the waters off Somalia, the Horn of Africa and in Asia has emerged as a major maritime security problem for international commercial activities and navigation.
“The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) was ratified by Sri Lanka in 1994. Sri Lanka enacted the Piracy Act No 09 of 2001 which encompasses legal measures to be adopted in relation to incidents of piracy and criminalises maritime piracy as a cognizable and non bailable offence,” he said.
The minister said Sri Lanka is also a party to the Regional Cooperative Agreement against Piracy and Armed Robbery in Asia (ReCAPP) which is an important inter-governmental agreement to counter maritime piracy in the region.
“It obliges member states to increase international cooperation and sharing of information in the efforts of prevention of piracy attacks. Sri Lanka believes that the organised criminal nature of this issue demands a coordinated response from member states,” he said.
“We urge member states of the AALCO to form similar inter-governmental cooperative mechanisms to strengthen anti-piracy efforts. Sri Lanka calls on member states to take adequate national measures to combat piracy and to enact stringent national legislation to make maritime piracy a serious criminal offence,” Hakeem said.
The minister also said Sri Lanka commends AALCO and expresses continued support and commitment to the organisation.
Hakeem also expressed appreciation for the work undertaken by AALCO and its contribution towards international law.
“I would also wish express my gratitude and appreciation to the Secretary General of the AALCO and the AALCO secretariat for their excellent coordination and organisation made for the session. I also take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation of the support extended by the Secretary General and AALCO secretariat to me during my tenure as the president of the 50th annual session of the AALCO,” he said.
“AALCO as an organisation carries tremendous potential to make a difference in the Asian- African region. Sri Lanka is of the view that it is the responsibility of all stakeholders to raise the profile of the organisation in the world stage. There are still many countries in our region that are yet to join AALCO. In this respect during my tenure as the President of the AALCO, invitations were extended to the Republic of Vietnam and the Kyrgyz Republic to obtain membership of AALCO,” the minister said. He said the outcome of these sessions are important.
“Therefore on behalf of Sri Lanka, I propose to include current topics which are of importance to the Asia-Africa region be selected for discussion and included in the agenda of the annual sessions,” Hakeem said.
“An extremely important issue in the current context is the spread of global terrorism. Sri Lanka’s experience related to eradicating terrorism was a long and hard one,” he said.
“During the 50th annual session held in my country last year, President Mahinda Rajapaksa stressed on the need and importance of continued vigilance at international level and stated that the ability to resort to both domestic law and international law as a source of protection, are vitally important. Considering the importance of this issue in a global context and especially in an Asian- African context, Sri Lanka urges all member states would exert all efforts to take action against terrorism including addressing issues of terrorist financing,” the minister said.
This article was posted by Neptune Maritime Security via dailynews.lk. MaritimeSecurity.Asia in cooperation with www.neptunemaritimesecurity.com