Kenya the Hero: Punishing Somali Pirates Just Got Easier
Now we have all heard about the Somali Pirates and their ship acquiring abilities. And of course their Davey Jones like seamanship skills were tested and were found to be lacking. However, the Somali pirates have been taking plenty of other ships and ransoming them successfully.
Coalition ships and aircraft patrol the area, but it is a complex operation…as a solution, [Vice Adm. William, CENTCOM] Gortney established Combined Task Force 151 to conduct counter-piracy operations. Nations that are members of the task force “will bring their collective capabilities to bear to deter, to disrupt and eventually to bring to justice these maritime criminals…
The problem of piracy started ashore. It’s because there is no rule of law. There isn’t a government. There isn’t economic stability. There isn’t a court system that will hold these criminals responsible for their actions. –LINK
One of then President George Bush’s major foreign policy initiatives was to pursue the pirates onto the land; something strictly verboten by treaty and law. In December, 2008 under the direction of Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice, the UN voted unanimously to allow "land and air attacks on pirate bases on the coast of Somalia".
However, at this point the problem facing all nations who captured pirates was how to punish them in accordance to law. As Vice Admiral Gortney pointed out, there is no law in Somalia, it’s a nation of warlords and tribes.
According to Rear Admiral Terence McKnight (USN)
…an accord could be reached within weeks to clear the way for piracy trials and imprisonment in countries "in the region." He declined, however, to name the nations possibly willing to hold the trials. –LINK
Step forward to last Tuesday:
Kenya has agreed to prosecute Somali pirates captured by the U.S. Navy, allowing U.S. forces to begin taking piracy suspects into custody on the high seas…The agreement came about earlier this month through a memorandum of understanding signed by U.S. State Department and Kenya –LINK
Historically Kenya has been pro-US in curbing pirate activity. In November 2006, a Kenyan court sentenced 10 Somali pirates to seven years in prison each after convicting them of piracy in a landmark case that began with their capture by the US navy.