Monday, 4 October 2010

Rage as Kenya cancels deal on pirate trials

Western and Chinese diplomats to Kenya are frustrated over the decision by Nairobi to cancel an agreement to try captured Somali pirates.

The diplomats are reportedly under pressure from their countries as well for not doing enough to safeguard the implementation of the agreement.

Today, the envoys have tasked the US ambassador the responsibility of seeking a meeting with President Kibaki and technocrats from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to see whether anything can be done. But, a contact at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said it is quite unlikely that Kenya will go back on the cancellation of the deal.

In 2009, Kenya signed an agreement with the USA, the UK, the EU, Denmark, Canada and China, in which Kenya agreed to accept pirates seized by foreign warships, and after due trial, jail them. In exchange, these countries pledged to assist Kenya with money for trials of the suspected pirated, to build courts and generally do more business with Nairobi.

When terminating the agreement on 30 September, Kenya said the foreign partners did not keep their side of the bargain. And from people who have been following this story, these nations indeed could have done more to support Kenya in trying the pirates.

Before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ended the agreement, the EU envoy to Kenya was telling a contact that they have done as much for Kenya, including building holding cell for pirates at the coast and also judicial support for piracy trials.

Washington is concerned that lack of facilities to try captured pirates will only give room for pirates to operate, and also, attract Al-Qaeda fighters to east Africa (read Somalia).

Some of the envoys had suggested that ambassadors release a statement on what they have done for Kenya, but they chose to consult outside the view of the media.

Since last year, Kenya has tried and sentenced about 30 pirates, while over 100 are in congested prison cells.

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