Before US posting, Nirupama Rao speaks on maritime policy

July 28th, 2011 - 11:47 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 28 (IANS) India is “in principle” opposed to the idea of an international judicial tribunal trying pirates captured by global navies in the Gulf of Aden, as it interferes with national legal sovereignty of states, outgoing Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said in what was her last engagement Thursday evening.

She takes over as India’s envoy to the US, while Ranjan Mathai is to take over as the new foreign secretary.

India favours establishing special chambers within the jurisdiction of four nations in Africa and the Gulf that abut the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden such as Somalia, Yemen and Oman with the United Nations participation.

“In principle, India does not support establishment of any international judicial tribunal under Chapter VII, as such action will interfere with national legal sovereignty of states,” Nirupama Rao said. Draped elegantly as usual in a sari, rao was elivering a lecture on ‘Maritime dimensions of foreign policy’ at the National Maritime Foundation here.

“On the basis of legal opinion, India is inclined to support the establishment of a special chamber within the national jurisdiction of a state or states within the region with UN participation,” she said.

Chapter VII of the UN Charter deals with its Security Council’s powers to maintain peace by taking action with respect to threats and acts of aggression.

Justifying India’s stand on prosecution of captured pirates, Rao said India considered the second option “suitable, besides being cost-effective”, as it would strengthen existing jurisdiction with the established procedures.

“It also provides opportunity for capacity building for the four states concerned and possibly other states through UN involvement. Further, this arrangement provides proximity for the purpose of transfer of suspects for patrolling naval states and also transfer of those convicted to their states for imprisonment,” she said.

Rao also noted that India was in an advanced stage of drafting a new law to deal with piracy and for the pirates’ prosecution. This responsibility was being handled by the external affairs ministry in close coordination with other ministries and departments such as the navy that deal with maritime and coastal security issues.

Indian warships are in the Gulf of Aden since October 2008 in anti-piracy roles and have since deployed 25 naval ships to escort over 1,500 cargo vessels in the international recommended transit corridor.

In recent months, it has captured over 120 Somali pirates, who moved closer to the Indian coast in the Arabian Sea due to the pressure exerted by the international navies in the Gulf of Aden, and lodged them in prisons in Mumbai.

Since then, India has been grappling with legal issues for prosecuting the captured sea brigands.

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