Kenya carrying too much of the piracy burden: EU

1127

Kenya must not be left to carry the financial burden and security risks of prosecuting Somali pirates, the European Union’s top foreign affairs diplomat says.

The east African nation has borne the brunt of taking in and prosecuting sea bandits seized by foreign navies patrolling the Gulf of Aden’s busy shipping lanes that link Europe with Africa and Asia.

Kenya’s Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula described the two-day visit by the EU’s Catherine Ashton as “fruitful” but said the east African nation would cease prosecutions in four months if costs and security guarantees were not forthcoming.

On her first tour of sub-Saharan Africa, Ashton commended Kenya’s agreement to continue prosecuting pirates on a case-by-case basis and agreed a more concerted international effort was required.
“(We recognise) this burden has to be shared, that this country alone cannot deal with this problem,” Ashton told reporters in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

Ashton will travel on to Tanzania and the Seychelles. Seychelles already holds about 30 suspected pirates.
“I will be talking to the (Tanzanian) government about how they can tackle this issue.

They had an issue of legislation which I understand has now been dealt with,” Ashton said.

Kenya invoked the right to six months notice to terminate its agreement to prosecute pirates in March.
“If the discussions that we have opened do not bear fruit then we will abrogate them (memorandums of understanding) because we want the responsibility shared, the costs shared, the risks shared,” Wetangula said.

He said piracy was costing east Africa’s largest economy some 2 billion shillings ($25.41 million) a month.

Somalia has lacked an effective central government for nearly 20 years and does not have the legal infrastructure to support trials. Captured pirates are often released because of disagreements over who should try them.

In April, the UN Security Council proposed creating special piracy courts to plug a gap in the global response to the attacks.

Security forces in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region arrested 12 pirates and seized cash, vehicles and weapons, officials said.

Abdi Hersi Ali, the governor of Puntland’s central Nugal province, told Reuters the confiscated $29 000 was a small part of a ransom paid for the release of the British-flagged chemical tanker St. James Park last week.

Ashton said a single, regional court would likely be too expensive and take too long to establish.

Kenya is concerned it will be lumbered with pirates released after serving sentences or those acquitted by local courts, and has warned of security concerns.
“There is general consensus that any country that brings pirates to Kenya or any country for that matter … will still carry the responsibility of taking them away and resettling them in a third country,” Wetangula said.
“We will not keep them beyond their jail term.”

Source: www.af.reuters.com