Five men in their mid-20s received life sentences after being convicted for piracy and arms charges. They were found guilty of trying to hijack the USS Nicholas, which, itself, was on an anti-piracy mission.
Though this sends a clear message to other pirates, the actual situation in which these five young men found themselves attacking a U.S. gunboat must be examined.
The pirates were on a small skiff, which was hardly a match for the USS Nicholas. The USS Nicholas was on an anti-piracy mission and just exactly what conduct this mission entailed remains unclear. This seems highly relevant; especially considering a US jury was the one to convict the five men.
The sentencing seems to reflect the jury’s lack of consideration for the conditions in Somalia that lead young men to engage in such acts.
After all, South Park poked fun at the pirates, depicting a group of US soldiers gunning down a group of Somali pirates from a distance, no problem.
The promise of thousands of dollars to these man, which they claimed had been their incentive, would have been extremely lucrative given the state of disarray in Somalia at the present, though that seems to be overlooked in many of the news articles examining piracy off the Horn of Africa.