Below is my latest article, an ambitious policy piece on the current state of pirate prosecutions in Kenya. It's also the first piece I've penned for Somalia Report, where I'm taking over as editor in less than a week.
Pirate Law 101
A Short History of Kenya's Pirate Prosecutions
On November 9, 2010, Kenyan High Court judge Mohamed Ibrahim drew intense criticism when he issued a controversial bench ruling ordering the release of nine alleged Somali pirates. Justice Ibrahim’s decision hinged on a perceived contradiction between Section 5 and Section 69(1) of the Kenyan Penal Code, under which all suspected pirates had been charged prior the February 2009 passage of the Merchant Shipping Act (MSA), Kenya’s modern anti-piracy legislation. Critically, the ruling may also spring the cell doors of each of the approximately 50 pirates handed over by international naval forces to Kenyan authorities before the MSA had come into effect. To the masses clamoring to have suspected pirates summarily hung from the yardarm (“We will have to act as our forefathers did when they met pirates,” Russian president Dimitry Medvedev once blustered), a rogue Kenyan judge potenitally setting four dozen of them free on a seeming legal technicality was utterly incomprehensible. It was equally mystifying to other Kenyan judges, and the case is currently under review in the Court of Appeals, where a ruling is expected on December 15.
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