The First Order in the Star Wars Resistance episode “The Doza Dilemma,” hired interstellar pirates to kidnap Torra Doza. Could the First Order and pirates be charged with conspiracy to commit piracy and piracy?
Looking to international and United States law for guidance, the answer unquestionably is YES. US law states:
“Whoever, on the high seas, commits the crime of piracy as defined by the law of nations, and is afterwards brought into or found in the United States, shall be imprisoned for life.”
18 U.S.C.S. § 1651.
The “high seas” are defined as “open waters of sea or ocean, as distinguished from ports and havens and waters within narrow headlands on coast.” United States v Rodgers 150 US 249 (1893).
Looking to international law, the Convention of the High Seas states that piracy includes, “Any illegal acts of violence, detention or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed.” 1958 U.S.T. LEXIS 31, Article 15, section 1.
The Colossus is an operational refueling station on the ocean planet Castilon. The Colossus is either adrift or holding station in open waters, far out of sight from any ports or harbors. The location of the Colossus meets the statutory requirements of being on the “high seas” given the nature of Castilon being an ocean planet.
The pirates Valik and Drell were smuggled aboard the Colossus in a shipping container. They were released from the container and gained access to the Aces’ Tower with the assistance of Synara San in order to kidnap Torra Doza. International law recognized piracy as “any illegal acts of violence.” Kidnapping is an act of violence that is recognized as one form of piracy, along with being held hostage, tortured, or murdered. See, United States v. Said, 798 F.3d 182, 199-200 (4th Cir. 2015).
Valik and Drell forcibly took Torra Doza from her quarters. Doza was then transported by over the Castilon Ocean in a small vessel to the pirates’ mother ship. These actions would constitute an act of violence on the high seas. As such, all of the elements of piracy are met in the kidnapping of Torra Doza.
The First Order cannot escape liability by claiming their retention of the pirates never placed them on the high seas, because the prohibition against piracy on the high seas has universal jurisdiction. Those who stay ashore who are part of a conspiracy cannot escape liability for the actions of co-conspirators on the high seas. See, United States v. Ali, 718 F.3d 929, 937 (D.C. Cir. 2013).
The issue of the First Order double-crossing the pirates does not absolve the First Order of being an active participant in the conspiracy to kidnap Torra Doza. It is merely a lesson that there is no honor among thieves.