UN urges nations to assist Kenya in conducting piracy trials

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[JURIST] The UN Secretary-General’s special adviser on maritime piracy [JURIST news archive] Jack Lang [official profile] called Tuesday for other nations to provide assistance to Kenya in conducting piracy trials. Kenya has expressed fears that it will become a dumping-ground for pirates and allowed an agreement for conducting piracy trials in Kenya to lapse [CNN report] last month. The UN is negotiating this matter with Kenya [Daily Nation report]. According to Lang, Kenya has received USD $4 million to date to upgrade its criminal justice system in return for agreements to prosecute suspected pirates there. Forty-three pirates have been prosecuted in Kenya, and many others are in custody in Mombasa, awaiting their trials.

Despite increased international efforts, Somali pirates continue to be a concern in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. In late September, a court in the Somali state of Puntland sentenced a pirate to death [JURIST report] for murdering the skipper of cargo ship in June. Also last month, a Kenyan court convicted [JURIST report] seven Somali pirates and sentenced them to five years in prison. Earlier in September, a Kenyan court convicted [JURIST report] seven other Somali pirates, giving them the same five-year sentences. The maximum sentence under Kenyan law for piracy is life imprisonment, and the EU Naval Force Somalia (EU NAVFOR) [official website], a naval force that has been deployed to deal with the surge of piracy off the coast of Somalia, refuses to turn over suspects unless capital punishment is off the table. In July, a court in Seychelles convicted and sentenced [JURIST report] a group of Somali pirates to 10 years in prison following the attempted hijacking of Seychelles coastguard ship. In June, the UN announced the opening of a new high-security courtroom [JURIST report] in Kenya that will hear piracy cases. The announcement came after the UN announced $9.3 million in donations [JURIST report] to help fund piracy courts in Kenya and Seychelles.

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