EU partners with Kenya to prosecute maritime crime suspects

Kenya has agreed to help the European Union deal with maritime crime suspects in the region, amid a growing threat of pirate activity and attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

The EU, which has a force operating in the Indian Ocean, is concerned that insecurity that also affects maritime traffic in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea is disrupting international trade.

With threats to shipping increasing in the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden and Red Sea, the European Union is asking Kenya for help in prosecuting suspected criminals caught in the region’s waters.

Henriette Geiger, EU ambassador to Kenya, said the bloc is working with Kenya to deal with suspected criminals trapped in the region’s waters.

“Kenya would conclude a final legal agreement with the European Union that would allow the then EU Atalanta to leave here, first of all, seized weapons, weapons, but also arms dealers and drug traffickers, to be prosecuted,” he said. “Seychelles has already agreed, we already have a legal agreement finalized, but it is a small island; they cannot be alone.”

The EU’s Operation Atalanta is a military operation in the Horn of Africa that counters piracy at sea.

Geiger explained that the EU naval force lacks the authority to prosecute suspects and cannot detain them for long without charges. Countries like Kenya are therefore needed to help prosecute suspects.

Isaiah Nakoru, head of Kenya’s Department of Transport and Maritime Affairs, says his country is ready to work on issues that promote security and the free flow of goods and people.

“We have to work together to ensure that we achieve the aspiration of ensuring that there is sustainability and security, and all activities that threaten people’s livelihoods and movements of people must be addressed in partnership with all those who have a stake,” he said. . saying.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Kenya is holding at least 120 suspected pirates and has convicted 18 of them.

Kenya faced criticism over whether its legal system allows for the prosecution of suspected pirates accused of committing crimes far from its territory. However, in 2012, a Kenyan court ruled that the East African nation has jurisdiction to try Somali pirates who carry out attacks in international waters.

Andrew Mwangura is a maritime security consultant in Kenya. More than ten years ago, he helped negotiate the release of some captive pirates. He says Kenya will always face legal challenges when prosecuting suspects who have not committed a crime on its territory.

“The problem remains the same because there are challenges in prosecuting Somali pirates in Kenya,” he said. “This pirate activity happens outside of Kenya. It doesn’t happen in Kenyan waters, and there will be legal challenges, arresting them, that is not a solution. The solution is to fight illegal fishing in East African territorial waters.”

Recently, there have been reports of piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia, raising concerns about the return of Somali piracy. In the early 2010s, Somali pirates hijacked dozens of ships and held them for millions of dollars in ransom.

Two weeks ago, six suspected pirates accused of attacking a merchant ship were transferred from Somalia to the Seychelles to be tried by the EU naval force. Last Friday, EU forces freed a merchant ship and its 17 crew.