For information only - not an official document
25 June 2010
New Courtroom in Mombasa to Bring Pirates to Justice
NAIROBI/VIENNA, 25 June (UN Information Service) - There has been a lot of focus on chasing pirates off the Horn of Africa, but less attention to what happens after they are caught. Most piracy suspects have been brought to Kenya, particularly the port of Mombasa. This has posed a challenge to the Kenyan justice system in terms of collecting evidence, prosecuting cases and holding Somali pirates in detention.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has been assisting Kenya to bring pirates to justice by working with police, prosecutors, courts and prison systems within the country. This has had wider benefits for the Kenyan justice system, not just piracy trials.
A major milestone came on 24 June when the Minister of Justice of Kenya, Hon. Mr. Mutula Kilonzo, opened a new high security courtroom in Shimo La Tewa, Mombasa, that will hear cases of maritime piracy and other serious criminal offences. The court was built by UNODC's Counter-Piracy Programme through contributions of its donor states Australia, Canada, the European Union, France, Germany and the United States.
With Kenya having taken on the largest number of suspected pirates for prosecution in the region - 123 to date -- the new court in Mombasa is intended to increase trial efficiency in the system and provide a secure, modern environment suitable for piracy cases.
The opening of the court, which was attended by high-level government officials and donor representatives, was proceeded by a tour of Shimo La Tewa Prison that highlighted improvements the UNODC Counter-Piracy Programme have brought to the prison - including upgrades to the water and sanitation systems and medical, educational and kitchen facilities - to the benefit of all prisoners. Similar improvements are being undertaken in five other Kenyan prisons where pirates are sent for detention after conviction.
"Kenya has taken on a heavy burden in dealing with a crime that affects the entire international community", said John Sandage, Officer-in-Charge of UNODC's Division of Treaty Affairs. "Today's event is a recognition of their commitment and a demonstration of solidarity from the international community," he said.
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