Kenya calls for piracy conference

November 16, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Nov 16 – Kenya, which has this month already acquitted 26 suspected Somali pirates brought here for trial, called Tuesday for an international conference on piracy to be convened.

"We would wish the international community to agree to convene a conference on piracy to sort out the problems," Kenya\’s acting Foreign Minister George Saitoti told a press briefing held jointly with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

Saitoti said Kenya\’s agreement to try suspected pirates captured off Somalia by foreign navies had put a heavy burden on the country\’s resources.

Courts in the country\’s coastal Mombasa city handling piracy cases acquitted 17 Somalis for lack of evidence on November 5 and a high court judge ruled four days later in a case involving nine suspects that Kenya had no jurisdiction over piracy committed in international waters.

"Kenya has experienced a number of difficulties … we have been receiving a lot of these pirates … it has had the effect of putting a lot of burden on our courts and prisons," Saitoti said.

Kenya agreed in 2009 with the United States, the European Union, Britain and other states to try suspected pirates captured by their navies. Prior to that the east African state had already tried a handful of pirates caught by foreign navies.

Previously Kenyan law only allowed for the trial of piracy offences committed within its waters.

Saitoti also called for a "very clear international agreement" on where pirates who have served their sentences in Kenya are to go.

Some 136 suspected Somali pirates, brought mainly by international navies deployed off Somalia since 2008, are being held in Kenyan prisons and dozens have been sentenced to jail terms.

Nairobi has indicated it is not ready to renew agreements allowing for the trial of Somali pirates captured off Somali by foreign navies.

Lavrov said Russia was throwing its weight behind the setting up of an international tribunal to try suspected pirates.

"Russia proposes to create an international tribunal to prosecute pirates," he told journalists.

Other countries, notably the Netherlands, have already mooted a similar scheme. Kenya and the Seychelles are the only coastal countries to have agreed to try suspects handed over by the foreign navies.


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