, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 30 – Kenya now wants other countries in the Indian Ocean region to step in and assist in the prosecution of suspected pirates arrested off the coast of Somalia.
Internal Security Permanent Secretary Francis Kimemia said on Tuesday that there “should be a shared responsibility in trying and investigating piracy-related cases.”
“The arrangement is that all countries should support each other in trying these pirates,” he said and added: “Kenya cannot be the only nation that tries all pirates whenever you get them.”
Mr Kimemia told reporters that the government was increasingly concerned at the large number of piracy-related cases being referred to Kenya.
“We share that responsibility with the international community so those ones can be tried elsewhere in other countries within or beyond the region,” he said in response to last week’s refusal by the police in Mombasa to accept three suspected Somali pirates and a fourth dead person that arrived at the port aboard an Italian warship.
The Italian frigate Scirocco had intercepted the suspected pirates in high seas as they were in distress and proceeded to sail to Mombasa with three of the survivors and a body.
Mr Kimemia however explained that it was not a government policy to decline to receive pirates to be tried in Kenya, only saying that “we just want to see other countries also take up the shared responsibility.”
“We are saying you do not have to bring people all the way and by-pass all the other countries and bring them to Kenya,” he said.
He singled out last week’s incident as a complicated case because “they also had a dead body in that ship, so it was a bit tricky who had done it (killed the person).”
Kenya is one of only two littoral States to have an agreement with Western naval powers for the transfer of suspected pirates.
Since late 2008, Kenya has signed agreements with most major naval powers patrolling the pirate-infested waters of the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden for transfer and trial of suspects.
The Seychelles recently signed a similar agreement whereby it accepts to hold suspected pirates in its prisons although the small island nation objected that it did not have the capacity to try them.
The laws applying to cases in which suspected pirates – who are rarely caught in the act and often throw their weapons overboard before being captured – are not sufficiently robust to allow swift and efficient prosecution.
The courts in Mombasa which lack expertise, translators and are already burdened with a huge backlog of domestic cases have only convicted 19 pirates in more than a year and are prosecuting more than 100 others.