Kenya releases Somali pirates en masse despite warnings
The Kenyan government has repatriated 62 Somali pirates who have served their jail sentences, despite warnings of a spike in attacks if release trend continues.
There are currently 164 pirates still serving time in Kenyan prisons, with another 14 set for release and repatriation next week according to Meshack Okiya, deputy chief at Shimo la Tewa Prison.
“The government is working with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to facilitate the transfer of pirates who have completed their jail terms in the country,” said Okiya.
The Somali government has been pushing for Kenya to repatriate convicted Somalis to serve their remaining prison terms at home.
The release by Kenya comes amid a general waning of support by anti-piracy coalition partners to prosecute and imprison suspected pirates amid record low reports of attacks in the Indian Ocean.
“Kenya held the pirates longer than some Scandinavian countries, who only jailed them for a year or less,” says Kevin Doherty, president of Nexus Consulting. “Kenya’s pirate court is basically no longer funded.”
Global piracy at sea is at its lowest level for eight years, and a perceived reduction in the piracy threat in the Gulf of Aden has seen funding for piracy courts withdrawn in several countries.
Security experts have warned that there may be a spike in incidents in the region following the release of these pirates.