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Volume 487: debated on Monday 26 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made towards reaching an international agreement on a legal framework for the detention and trial of pirates. (250677)

Piracy is a crime of universal jurisdiction which any state is entitled, as a matter of international law, to prosecute. However it remains for individual countries to ensure legislation or suitable arrangement are in place for the detention and trial of pirates.

In line with UN Security Council Resolution 1851, the inauguration of the International Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia took place on 14 January to discuss an international response to piracy. The Contact Group was attended by 24 countries and five organisations, including UK representatives. One of the key focus areas is strengthening judicial frameworks for arrest, prosecution and detention of pirates, exploring regional arrangements, bilateral arrangements, and international judicial systems. A working group is taking forward discussions on this important issue.