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Kenya’s Efforts to Combat Global Piracy

Key International Leader in Prosecuting Piracy

In 2006, Kenya established the Maritime Rescue Center in the port city of Mombasa, designed to provide a rapid response to acts of piracy. As one of the only countries in East Africa to have the legislative power to prosecute pirates, several countries are calling for piracy cases to be prosecuted in Mombasa.

The United States, Britain and European Union have signed agreements allowing for piracy suspects to be tried in Kenya. Additionally, several countries are discussing the possibility of setting up a special piracy tribunal in Kenya akin to the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

Strong Anti-Piracy Laws

  • Kenyan piracy laws state that any person in territorial waters or upon the high seas who commits any act of piracy is guilty of the offense.
  • Under the current law, any person who is guilty of the offense of piracy is liable to imprisonment for life.
  • Under the Kenyan constitution, the High Court of Kenya has the jurisdiction to try any Kenyan or non-Kenyan for piracy offenses.

Enhancing Anti-Piracy Resources and Training

  • The U.S. military’s Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) collaborated with the Antiterrorism Assistance programs to train Kenyans on maritime operations training.
  • In April 2009, Kenya signed an agreement to allow the United States to install radiation sensors at the Mombasa seaport. The sensors will detect nuclear or radiological materials that could be shipped to ports around the world, including within the United States.
  • The Maritime Police Unit and other agencies received equipment and training for coastal security from the State Department’s Antiterrorism Assistance program to monitor the high seas. This important collaboration between Kenya and the U.S. government serves as one of America’s first lines of defense against terrorist threats around the world.