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Donors to give $9.3 mn on Somali piracy cases: UN

Donors will spend USD 9.3 million to help Kenya and Seychelles prosecute suspected Somali pirates and improve those countries` criminal justice systems, a UN official said on Tuesday.



Nairobi: Donors will spend USD 9.3 million to
help Kenya and Seychelles prosecute suspected Somali pirates
and improve those countries` criminal justice systems, a UN
official said on Tuesday.

Although a coalition of international navies spends
millions of dollars each year to patrol the pirate-infested
passageway along Somalia`s coast, the UN drug agency`s Alan
Cole said the money will help cash-strapped countries like
Kenya follow through on seeking justice for suspected pirates.
Earlier this year Kenya said it would stop accepting new
piracy suspects captured by naval forces patrolling the Indian
Ocean and Gulf of Aden where Somali pirates have been
hijacking vessels.

Kenya holds the second-largest number of piracy suspects
awaiting trial and had said the cases are putting a strain on
its already over-stretched, poorly equipped and corrupt
criminal justice system.

Upon receiving assurances from the European Union in May,
Kenya said it would resume taking on new piracy cases.

Cole, who heads the UN Office on Drugs and Crime`s
counter-piracy program in East Africa, said the funding covers
the costs of bringing witnesses from around the world for
piracy trials.

It also goes to better equip police and prosecutors, and
to upgrade courts and prisons in Kenya and Seychelles, Cole
said. The agency is managing the funds that will cover the
next 18 months of work. It has been running its counter-piracy
program since May 2009.

Cole said this is the first anti-piracy program the
agency is involved in.
"We are all in - if you`ll excuse the pun - uncharted
waters. The experience so far has been very positive," said
Cole.

The European Union is the largest donor to the program,
with Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the US also
contributing. A UN-administered fund created in September to
finance such programs is also contributing money.

Cole said that trials in Kenya take about the same amount
of time - 12 to 18 months - as similar cases being prosecuted
in Europe, despite a backlog in Kenyan courts.

Kenya is holding 123 piracy suspects for trial. Another
18 suspects have been convicted and sentenced in Kenya, Cole
said.

In total there are 540 Somali piracy suspects being held
in 10 countries, said Cole. Somalia`s semiautonomous region of
Puntland holds the largest number, more than 200 of them, he
said.

PTI

From Zee News

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