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Anti-Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism issues are not well understood by many entities that are expected to play a role in curbing the crime. The COMESA Maritime Security Programme (MASE) will therefore focus on building the capacity amongst Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) in the countries participating in the programme

This decision was one of the outputs of a four days regional MASE workshop for law enforcement agencies that took place in Lusaka, Zambia on 16 to 19 May 2016. It was aimed at creating understanding of the capacity needs that exist amongst law enforcement agencies which hinder their successful interventions towards combating money laundering and other financial related organized crimes.

Over 50 delegates representing law enforcement agencies from ten countries of the Eastern and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region attended and adopted an ambitious action plan for implementation by MASE.  This will be implemented in close collaboration with INTERPOL and supported by the European Union.

Key among the issues agreed upon include the need to convene sensitization and training workshops on money laundering and other financial related organized crimes thereby creating awareness and skills that will trigger more effective corrective efforts towards combating the crimes.

The trainings will be preceded by the deployment of INTERPOL and other experts to assess risks and capacity gaps in detail and thereafter providing tailor-made solutions.  The MASE programme will develop a training manual on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) to benefit the respective jurisdictions.

In addition, COMESA MASE programme pledged to sponsor exchange/study visits or attachments between jurisdictions aimed at learning and transferring of expertise.  MASE will also support member states by reviewing laws and providing expert advice to ensure that these are done in line with the revised Financial Action task Force standards.

It will also assist in comprehensive National Risk Assessments that will allow the respective member states to not only understand the key risks but to also channel capacity building resources appropriately.

The MASE program is financed through the 10th European Development Fund envelop covering ten countries namely, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Somalia and Tanzania. These are the countries that were considered as the most affected by maritime insecurity at the commencement of the programme. However, a recent Ministerial decision recommended the extension of the programme to inland countries.

The programme is implemented in four dimensions, namely, building financial analytical capacity amongst Financial Intelligence Units, establishing and developing information sharing mechanisms, reviewing/amending/drafting Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism laws, and also, building capacity amongst law enforcement agencies.