, NAIROBI Kenya, Dec 10 – Cases of piracy along the Indian Ocean coastline have reduced drastically, according to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
DPP Keriako Tobiko attributed this to the establishment of a fully fledged anti-piracy unit within his office to deal with maritime piracy.
He also said that navy forces from other countries operating within the Indian Ocean coastline together with the Kenya Defence Forces efforts to maintain security in Somalia have helped improve the situation.
Tobiko applauded the continued efforts to fight the piracy threats saying, “Kenya has indeed achieved some milestones in the fight against piracy. These have included; the execution of MoUs and exchange of letters with other states involved in counter-piracy operations.”
In a speech read by his deputy Kioko Kamula on Tuesday, the DPP noted that a total of 164 suspected pirates intercepted off the Coast of Somalia since the formation of Anti-Piracy Unit in 2006 have been prosecuted.
“Piracy is an international problem …Kenya was the first country to prosecute modern policy. Piracy off the Coast of Somalia had begun to take root and there was therefore a need to put in place a mechanism to deal with emerging phenomenon,” he stated.
He was speaking at a Nairobi hotel during the first regional meeting of prosecutors dealing with piracy and other maritime crime.
Speaking during the forum, Senior Principal Prosecution Counsel Alexander Muteti noted that lack of adequate resources was a hindrance in dealing with such cases.
Another major challenge cited in fighting piracy is lack of witnesses to testify against those arrested.
Also noted was, “inadequate legal framework that existed prior to the enactment of the Merchant Shipping Act.”
Language barriers when prosecuting foreign nationals for example Somali speaking suspects, English/French/Italian and Spanish speaking witnesses also remains a problem.
The Director of Public Prosecutions further noted piracy has, “contributed to the rise in insurance premiums paid by shipping companies. These costs are passed on to the consumers of goods that are shipped to the region.”
“Sea-fearers have also resorted to opting for less risky routes, resulting to consumers in the region having to incur extra costs to access basic commodities,” he regretted.