Yahoo News. OSLO, Norway – A Norwegian shipping magnate was strongly criticized Wednesday for suggesting that pirates captured off the Horn of Africa should be sunk with their skiffs or executed on the spot. In a newspaper op-ed, the 79-year-old founder of the Stolt-Nielsen shipping group, Jacob Stolt-Nielsen, said history shows that fighting piracy requires a gloves-off approach.
“When (piracy) implies a great risk of being caught and hanged, and the cost of losing ships and weapons becomes too big, it will decrease and eventually disappear,” Stolt-Nielsen wrote Tuesday in Norwegian financial newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv. “Pirates captured in international waters have always been punished by death, often on the spot,” he wrote, arguing that modern navies should deal with the problem like Roman pirate hunter Pompey did more than 2,000 years ago. “Not arrest them and say, ‘naughty, naughty, shame on you,’ and release them again, but sink their boats with all hands,” Stolt-Nielsen wrote. “The pirates won’t be frightened by being placed before a civilian court.”
The article drew sharp criticism in Norway, a seafaring nation known as a peace broker in many of the world’s armed conflicts and as the home of the Nobel Peace Prize. Jacqueline Smith, president of the Norwegian Seafarers Union, described Stolt-Nielsen’s views as “barbaric” and said killing pirates could endanger the 700 seafarers now held as hostages in Somalia.
Piracy in the busy shipping lanes off the African nation has flourished since its government collapsed in 1991. Erik Lahnstein, state secretary at Norway’s Foreign Ministry, said basic human rights must apply also to pirates, and noted that “even for the most gruesome crimes, we do not have death penalty in Norway.” Stolt-Nielsen acknowledged that killing pirates could trigger a backlash against crews held hostage. “But you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. This is war and warfare costs lives,” he wrote.