PORT-LOUIS, Mauritius, January 24, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On 27 January at La Plantation Hotel in Balaclava, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will celebrate the renewal of their partnership under the EU-funded Programme to Promote Regional Maritime Security in the Eastern and Southern Africa – Indian Ocean region, better known under its acronym MASE.
The EU and UNODC have agreed to take the opportunity of an important training session in Mauritius to celebrate the renewal of their partnership under the Programme to Promote Regional Maritime Security (MASE programme) in the presence of officials from the Government of Mauritius and criminal justice agencies, as well as representatives from the Indian Ocean Commission. Mr Guy Samzun, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the European Union Delegation to the Republic of Mauritius and Mr. Robert McLaughlin, senior legal advisor and counter-piracy expert representing UNODC will deliver statements on this occasion.
UNODC Maritime Crime Programme is dedicated to supporting States in the East African and Indian Ocean regions to combat maritime crime, with a focus on capacity building and criminal justice development. As part of the overarching MASE programme, the EU signed an agreement with UNODC in November 2013 to the amount of EUR 5 million to continue supporting States in the Eastern and Southern Africa-Indian Ocean region to develop and strengthen national/regional legal, legislative and infrastructural capability for arrest, transfer, detention and prosecution of pirates. This is a continuation of the ongoing European Union support to the valuable work of UNODC.
Under the EU-UNODC MASE partnership, the EU will provide funding for UNODC to continue its support to combating maritime crime for Eastern and Southern African and Indian Ocean States, including Mauritius. This support takes many forms and includes training of Judges, lawyers, police and prison staff; provision of new equipment; legislative support; infrastructural development, mentoring and support to maritime crime prosecutions. Such assistance is contingent upon the cooperation of national partners. The EU and UNODC have enjoyed an excellent working relationship with national criminal justice agencies in Mauritius and see this as a key component of the success of the new partnership under the MASE programme.
The implementation of the MASE programme requires regional ownership and responsibility, solidarity and intra-regional burden-sharing, effective communication and information-sharing mechanisms as well as collaboration with other implementing partners with expertise and experience. Therefore, the MASE programme will be implemented under the leadership of the Regional Organisations of the Eastern and Southern Africa – Indian Ocean in collaboration with other implementing partners including UNODC and INTERPOL. The new partnership between the EU and UNODC will be implemented under the framework of Result 2 of the MASE programme “Development and strengthening of national and regional legal, legislative and infrastructural capabilities” which is led by the East African Community.
The European Union (EU) is stepping up its support to fight maritime crime in the Indian Ocean. Piracy, drugs and arms smuggling, human trafficking, illegal fishing and maritime pollution are serious threats that can undermine peace and stability and which increase the cost of doing business. In 2013, the EU launched the MASE programme, a new and crucial programme to combat maritime crime and promote maritime security in the Eastern and Southern Africa-Indian Ocean region. The MASE programme will provide support to reduce and prosecute maritime crimes in line with the Regional Strategy against Piracy and for Promoting Maritime Security adopted in October 2010 in Mauritius during the 2nd High Level Regional Ministerial Conference on Maritime Piracy It will thus secure trade routes in the Eastern and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean Region. The MASE Programme, which amounts to a total of EUR 37.5 million from the 10th European Development Fund, will be implemented over five years under the leadership of four Regional Organisations, namely IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority for Development), COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa), EAC (East African Community) and IOC (Indian Ocean Commission).
Under the EU – UNODC partnership, UNODC will be responsible for working to strengthen the ‘maritime criminal justice system’ in Eastern and Southern Africa and
Indian Ocean states such as Mauritius. This is achieved through training, capacity building, and support to maritime crime prosecutions. Maritime crimes include piracy, trafficking of human beings, and smuggling of drug and weapons. Once suspects are arrested for maritime crimes, trials can be extremely difficult to conclude. This is because suspects and witnesses are often from countries other than the one in which the trial takes place, due to the international nature of maritime activities. UNODC works hand in hand with national governments to overcome these challenges and bring criminals to justice. In doing so, it provides assistance to the core national criminal justice institutions; assistance which is not limited to maritime security but has wider-ranging benefits.
In addition to the MASE partnership, the UNODC Maritime Crime Programme is also engaged in capacity building activities in Somalia, with a view to strengthening Somalia’s own ability to combat and ultimately prosecute maritime crime, particularly piracy. A core component of Maritime Crime Programme’s work is providing for prisoners that have been convicted for piracy in courts across the East African / Indian Ocean region to be transferred to prisons in Somalia where they can complete their sentences in their home country. UNODC is involved in the construction, maintenance and monitoring of these prisons to ensure that detainees are kept in secure and humane detention conditions.
In addition to the MASE programme, the European Union has a number of
programmes in support maritime security. Complementary to the work that UNODC undertakes, the EUCAP Nestor operation also has a mandate to support capacity development in national criminal justice systems. The combined actions of many countries and agencies in securing the Indian Ocean have proved effective in addressing piracy.
The programme complements a number of other EU actions including the two other missions of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy in the region, the
European Union Naval Force Somalia – Operation Atlanta, a naval operation that provides more direct support to secure safety on the high seas, and the EU military Training Mission (EUTM) for Somalia.