France passes law beefing up navy's anti-piracy powers

22nd December 2010, Comments 0 comments

France's parliament on Wednesday passed a law giving French naval forces sweeping legal powers to detain and send for trial pirates irrespective of their nationality or that of their victims.

The law gives French authorities "practically universal jurisdiction to judge acts of piracy committed outside France whatever the nationality of the boat or of the victims," provided the culprits are arrested by French forces.

The law reintroduces the concept of piracy into French law after it was removed in 2007.

It effectively gives French naval commanders, who are taking part in the European Union's anti-piracy force in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia, the same powers as French police heading criminal investigations.

Many pirates are released after being captured because of the lack of a legal framework to arrest them and bring them to trial.

© 2010 AFP

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