Kenya appeals court allows jurisdiction over international piracy cases

[JURIST] An appeals court in Kenya ruled Thursday that Kenyan courts have jurisdiction to try international piracy suspects. The court's decision overturns a 2010 ruling [JURIST report] which found that Kenya does not have jurisdiction outside of its national waters. The appellate court, composed of a five-judge panel, concluded that the decision below failed to consider the negative economic effects [Africa Review report] experienced in Kenya as a result of piracy. The court determined that Kenya does have jurisdiction to try piracy suspects regardless of the location of the event or the suspect's national origin. In the decision, Judge David Maraga said the country derives its jurisdiction from both its national penal code and international law governing issues of piracy. He ordered the suspects in the case to be transferred to Mombasa to stand trial.

A number of countries around the world have been making attempts to solve the problem of maritime piracy. In May a United Arab Emirates court sentenced 10 Somali pirates [JURIST report] to 25 years in prison. Also that month six accused Somali pirates went on trial [JURIST report] in a Paris court for taking 30 crew members hostage in 2008 on the ship Le Ponant in the Gulf of Aden. The US government in March handed over [JURIST report] 15 suspected Somali pirates it captured in January to the Republic of Seychelles for prosecution. Italy ordered its first international piracy trial in February against nine Somali pirates, while France began its first international piracy trial [JURIST reports] in November. Last October the UN Security Council adopted a resolution encouraging states to criminalize and punish piracy after maritime piracy reached an all-time high [JURIST reports] in 2010. The UN also donated $9.3 million [JURIST report] in 2010 to fund piracy courts in Seychelles and Kenya, the only two countries that have created such courts.

 

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