(CNN) -- A special court in Kenya has been initiated to hear maritime piracy cases, the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime said Friday.
The court, opened on Thursday in Mombasa, was built by the U.N. office's Counter-Piracy Program with contributions from Australia, Canada, the European Union, Germany and the United States.
"With Kenya having taken on the largest number of suspected pirates for prosecution in the region -- 123 to date -- the new court in Mombasa is intended to increase trial efficiency in the system and provide a secure, modern environment suitable for piracy cases," the U.N. office said.
Piracy has plagued the seas off the coast of eastern Africa.
"Kenya has taken on a heavy burden in dealing with a crime that affects the entire international community," said John Sandage, office-in-charge of UNODC's division of treaty affairs.