The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime says Kenya has agreed to
help launch a new strategy for combatting piracy off the coast of
Somalia. The proposal calls for police from the Horn of Africa to
deploy on international warships to arrest Somali pirates at sea and
bring them ashore for trial.
The U.N. Office on Drugs and
Crime is seeking U.S. congressional support for a new plan to prosecute
Somali pirates who frequently hijack commercial ships off the Horn of
The agency's executive director, Antonio Maria Costa,
says international warships ideally should send pirates to their home
country for trial. But, in testimony to a House Foreign Affairs
subcommittee Thursday, he said Somalia's lack of a legal system rules
"We are left with basically two options: bringing
pirates to the court system of the country that seized them," Costa
said. "Since the waters are being patrolled by European vessels,
Chinese vessels, obviously United States vessels and so forth, we are
talking about distances of tens of thousands of kilometers. The only
option left is to bring pirates immediately to courts in countries on
the shores of the Indian Ocean."
'Ship riders' would deliver pirates to Kenya for trial
During a recess at the hearing,
Costa told VOA Kenya has agreed to a proposal he made in December to
deploy police on international warships to arrest captured pirates. The
police, or "ship riders," would then deliver the pirates to Kenya
The U.N. official said other Horn of Africa countries
may join the effort, including Tanzania, Djibouti, Eritrea and Yemen.
But, he said the plan will not work without international support.
African countries in the region from where the ship riders would come
are interested in economic assistance and development help, so as to
strengthen the judicial system," Costa said. "Obviously, a ship rider
mechanism works only if there is an adequate judicial system on shore
to deal with the pirate suspects."
UN anti-crime agency working with Kenya to train lawyers
At the hearing, Costa said
the U.N. anti-crime agency is working with Kenya to train lawyers and
improve prison conditions for about 100 pirates awaiting trial. He
urged the lawmakers to provide more funds to his agency to help it
expand the program to other countries.
U.S Representative Bill
Delahunt, a Democrat, said he supports boosting legal aid to Kenya to
help it arrest and prosecute pirates. But, he said in the long-term,
such cases should be handled by an international court.
am looking for is a body of jurisprudence with a particular venue that
would obviate, or eliminate, the differences between nation states. And
I think it is important to move quickly and firmly," he said.
recent weeks, Portuguese, Greek and Canadian warships have released
pirates captured off Somalia because of uncertainties about where to
send them. The Obama administration says pirates should be brought to
justice and that freeing them sends a bad signal.
States and European Union have agreements with Kenya to send pirates
captured by their forces to Kenyan courts for trial. France transferred
11 Somali suspects to Kenya earlier this month, and Spain said this
week it plans to do the same with 13 other Somalis.