A Guantanamo on the sea : the difficulties of prosecuting pirates and terrorists
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California Law Review, Vol. 98, issue 1, 2010, p. 243-275
As a surge in pirate attacks in the seas around the Horn of Africa threatens to seriously damage international trade, the nations of the world have refused to enforce international law against these criminals. The dozens of nations patrolling the Gulf of Aden have ample legal authority to detain and prosecute pirates. Yet the United States and other navies have, as a matter of policy, been releasing apprehended pirates because of the difficulty of detaining or successfully prosecuting them. These fears are not unwarranted. As this essay shows, while on the one hand international law requires all nations to fight pirates, a variety of other international legal rules - ranging from the Geneva Conventions to refugee law to the Law of the Sea Treaty - are in tension with this goal. These tensions are daunting enough to keep nations from even trying.