By Daniel M. Austin
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
NAROBI, Kenya – Over the objection of international officials, the Kenyan government has decided to let an agreement made with the European Union (E.U.) and other nations expire, thereby ending its practice of prosecuting Somali pirates. This agreement was initially signed by Kenya and the E.U., United States, United Kingdom, Denmark, Canada, and China just over a year ago. The contents of this agreement specified that the Kenyan government would hold, prosecute, and jail Somali pirates captured by international forces patrolling the coast of Africa. In exchange, Kenya would receive financial support from western countries to run this program and to strengthen its own judicial system. Included in this agreement was a clause allowing Kenya to cancel the deal if six months notice is provided. Thus, this agreement is set to expire as of September 30, 2010.
Since the agreement has been in place, more than 100 suspected pirates have been arrested by international forces and transported to Kenya for prosecution. Despite this success, Kenya claims that the EU and other nations have not fulfilled their promises. Specifically, the western nations have not provided the financial support promised nor have they supplied the judicial and technical expertise to the Kenyan government as previously agreed. Furthermore, Kenyan officials are concerned the security risks associated with trying Somali pirates are too high.
In response to these accusations, the western nations point to almost 3 million dollars (U.S.) that has been spent through the United Nation Office of Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) to support Kenya’s judiciary. Some of this money has been spent on creating a court specifically designed to prosecute Somali pirates.
Diplomats from the E.U. and other nations have been pressuring Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki to reconsider his decision to end the prosecution of Somali pirates. So far, the President has not been persuaded to resurrect these agreements. Kenya’s decision comes at a time when piracy attacks continue to plague merchant ships traveling along the eastern coast of Africa including the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. In fact, three ships in the Indian Ocean have been attacked during the past week alone.
For more information, please see:
BBC News Africa – Kenya Ends Cooperation in Hosting Somali Pirate Trials-1 October 2010.
Bloomberg Businessweek – Kenya Jails 11 For Piracy; Daily Nation Says Trials to End-1 October 2010.
Daily Nation – Kenya Cancels Piracy Trial Deals-30 September 2010.