Kenya joins the war against Somalia pirates


NAIROBI, Kenya - The fight against pirates operating along Somalia’s coastline received a major boost after the US and European Union picked Kenya as the second country that can prosecute culprits after Seychelles, an island nation within the Indian Ocean.

A number of countries have expressed concerns about disruption of trade along the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, over threats posed by Houthis rebels in Yemen, with pirates also surging in Somalia. The last three months have been difficult given rising cases of piracy.

European Union Naval Force (EU Navfor) has confirmed that Kenya will assist Seychelles in handling maritime crimes suspects due to the increasing maritime cases reported, The EastAfrican reports.

At Mombasa recently, EU Ambassador to Kenya Henriette Geiger said the union will work with different governments to suppress insecurity within the Horn of Africa. Ms Geiger said EU Navfor will extend its presence in different areas where piracy, narcotics human trafficking, and other crimes are reported.

“EU Navfor Somalia managed to suppress piracy in its previous years but with the current operation Atalanta, the forces will work with different governments to address emerging piracy and the illegal group at the Suez Canal,” said the Ambassador.

Christina Diaz, the Spanish ambassador to Kenya, and her Italian counterpart Roberto Natali said although the current threat by Somali piracy is classified as moderate off the Somali Coast, the attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels have remained the biggest worry, resulting in the rerouting of vessels to a longer route through the Cape.

“Seychelles has played a key role in handling suspects arrested in the waters and now Kenya will be another country which EU has entered a legal agreement with to allow for the trial of suspected pirates arrested by warships,” said the ambassador.

On May 14, six suspected pirates were handed over to the Seychelles authorities for trial by EU Navfor’s Operation Atalanta, allegedly from Somalia who were involved in the piracy attack on the Marshall Islands-flagged Merchant Vessel Chrystal Arctic on May 10.

The Commanding Officer of the ship, Rear Admiral Francesco Saladino said Atalanta remains committed to supporting the country in the prosecution of the case until it goes to trial.

“Atalanta has a legal finish with countries it operates within their territories which guarantees the entire process within piracy events from deter, arrest, detention, and prosecution in accordance with international law,” said Mr Saladino.

Piracy, although largely suppressed, has not yet been eradicated. Criminal networks associated with piracy have diversified their activities and reoriented their activities towards other maritime crimes, such as the illicit trade of weapons and human trafficking, The East African adds.


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