Kenya, EU sign deal on pirates

March 7, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, March 7 – The government and the European Union have signed an agreement facilitating the transfer to Kenya of suspected Somali pirates detained as part of the EU’s Atalanta anti-piracy naval mission.

The agreement was signed in Nairobi by Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula and the Czech ambassador to Kenya, Margita Fuchsova, whose country currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency.

"By enabling EUNAVFOR to bring pirates to justice, this agreement will enhance the deterrence effect of the operation," the EU naval mission in Somalia said in a statement.

"This is an important framework agreement on the transfer to Kenya of suspected pirates detained as part of Operation Atalanta," one of the diplomats who negotiated the agreement said.

"It includes guarantees on the rights of the detainees… Kenya is the only coastal country that has agreed to such a deal so far," the diplomat added.

Under the agreement, Kenya accepts to take suspected pirates detained by EU navies patrolling Somalia’s waters and prosecute them in Kenyan courts.

Some countries involved in anti-piracy naval operations had been reluctant to transfer pirates back to Somalia, arguing there were insufficient guarantees that due process would be followed.

Dozens of suspected Somalia pirates are being held in Kenya and several have already been brought to courts in the port city of Mombasa.

In the latest such case, seven suspected pirates captured by the US navy during a botched attack against the MV Polaris last month were charged with piracy on Friday by Mombasa chief magistrate Catherine Mwangi.

Attacks by pirates on the hundreds of foreign vessels sailing one of the world’s busiest trade routes through the Gulf of Aden each month have recently decreased, due to rough seas and increased navy patrols.

The EU naval mission — launched in December 2008 — currently includes Greece, the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Germany but Sweden, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway are also expected to contribute.


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