The Kenyan government on Wednesday claimed to have repatriated 62 Somali pirates who have finished their jail terms, as part of its Piracy Prisoner Transfer Programme.The authorities say 164 pirates, who were captured over hijacking vessels at Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden since 2008, are still in 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,” Meshack Okiya, deputy chief at Shimo la Tewa Prison in Mombasa, told Xinhua.
Another 14 pirates will be handed over to the Somali Embassy in Nairobi after they completed their jail terms next week, Okiya said.
“Once they are handed over to Somalia’s Embassy in Nairobi, they will then be transferred to Puntland where they can integrate with their relatives,” he added.
The UNODC has also set up detention facilities in the Somali cities of Garowe and Hargeisa for the transfer of those pirates still serving their jail terms.
Its counter-piracy programme was established in 2009 and aims to ensure fair and efficient trial and imprisonment of piracy suspects in regional countries.
The Somali government has been pushing the signing of Memorandum of Understanding with Kenya to enable convicted Somalis serving prison terms to be repatriated to Somalia.
Pirates operate off the coast of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden, and some deep into the Indian Ocean and as far south as Mozambique and Madagascar.
The cases of piracy at the Indian Ocean has greatly gone down recently following intensive patrols by foreign warship there and the recapture of Somalia’s Kismayu port.
(Correction: Pirates operate more on Indian Ocean waters than the Gulf of Aden.)