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Kenya: Court Rules Kenya Lacks Jurisdiction over Offenses Committed on High Seas

(Nov. 12, 2010) On November 9, 2010, the Kenyan High Court, Mombasa Division, terminated for want of jurisdiction a lower court's criminal case against nine Somali citizens charged with piracy. The individuals allegedly attacked the MV Courier in the high seas of the Indian Ocean on March 3, 2009 (Eunice Machuhi, Court Deals Bow to Piracy War, DAILY NATION (Nov. 9, 2010),

Citing the repeal of section 69 of the Penal Code, the Court held that Kenyan courts lack the jurisdiction to try offenses that occur outside Kenyan territory (id.). Section 69, which had provided that “any person who, in the territorial waters or upon the high seas, commits any act of piracy jure gentium is guilty of the offence of piracy,” was repealed in 2009 (Kenyan Penal Code, § 69, 12 LAWS OF KENYA, Cap 63; see also Penal Code, § 69, KENYAN LAW REPORTS (KLR), [type in Penal Code or scroll down in window to “Penal Act”] (last visited Nov. 9, 2010)).

Kenya is said to have 123 individuals in its custody for piracy-related offenses; 18 of them have been convicted (UNODC and Piracy, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime website,
(last visited Nov. 9, 2010).