Kenya and the United States have signed a memorandum of understanding that will allow pirates captured off Kenya's coast to be tried in Kenyan courts.  The international community has been searching for ways to prosecute pirates since the rate of attacks in the region spiked, last year. 

US will hand over captured pirates to Kenyan government

According to the American ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger,  the United States will hand over pirates captured off the coast of East Africa to the Kenyan government for prosecution. He was speaking at a joint news conference in Nairobi with Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who says Kenya's economy is suffering from pirate attacks off its coast.

"Piracy is a serious threat to security in our part of the world.  Because of this piracy, the insurance premiums for goods that are coming into our country have gone up substantially, so it is increasing the cost of our trade.  And, therefore, we say that we are going to cooperate with the international community to deal with this issue of piracy," said Odinga.

Pirates have captured more than 40 ships
Last year, more than 40 ships and 800 crew members were hijacked by Somali pirates off the coast of East Africa.  Since November, the rate of attacks has slowed as the United States, European Union, China, and other countries have sent ships to patrol the area. But the question of how to prosecute captured pirates has been a tricky one.

"When pirates are arrested there in high seas, the issue of how they should be charged becomes a problem," said Odinga. "If you arrest them and you take them for example to Denmark or to Holland, they'll say that it's not a crime in those countries because it was not committed in the borders of those particular countries."

Britain has already reached a similar agreement to hand over pirates to Kenyan authorities.  Eight pirates detained last year are facing charges in the Kenyan port city, Mombasa.

African and Middle Eastern countries are holding a meeting in Djibouti, this week, with the aim of improving laws to combat piracy.