COMESA-IGAD-EAC-IOC and EU strengthen efforts to prevent resurgence of maritime piracy

Lusaka, 23rd August 2018: The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the East African Community (EAC) and the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) with support from the European Union Commission have resolved to step up their efforts to ensure that piracy does not resurge.

The resolution comes out of the 7th Technical Steering committee meeting of the Regional Maritime Security Programme held at the Best Western Hotel, in Lusaka, Zambia, 23rd to 24th August 2018.

Speaking during the opening ceremony of a steering committee of the MASE, which was developed to strengthen the region’s capacity to fight against piracy, Secretary General of COMESA, Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe in a speech read by Assistant Secretary General in Charge of Programmes, Dr. Kipyego Cheluget emphasized on the importance of addressing structural factors that could provide an opportunity for pirates.

The Secretary General informed the meeting that money earned from piracy was still in circulation and used to fund other transnational crimes.  She therefore called for concerted efforts to “follow the money”.

“Following these illicit funds is very important to enable the arrest and prosecution of the kingpins of piracy or at least disable them……..we should also aim at the forfeiture of assets earned from such money as well as ensure that the proceeds do not continue to find their way into financial systems,” the Secretary General said.

Ms. Kapwepwe noted the unique and valuable role the different components of the programme play in eradicating piracy and urged the implementing organisations to work in close collaboration.  He expressed appreciation to the European Commission for their financial contribution to the project.

Speaking at the same function, the European Union representative Mr. Ivo Hoefkens reiterated the his organisation’s commitment to supporting the region in developing its capacities to address organised crime in the maritime domain.  He also referred to the importance of maritime security for developing the benefits the Blue Economy can offer to the region.

“The EU is preparing with its regional partners, new support actions for the fisheries sector, for maritime and port security, as well as for coastal urban development,” Mr Hoefkens said.

Present at the meeting were representatives of the European Union Delegations in Djibouti, Mauritius and Tanzania.  The meeting was also attended by other international partners, Regional Organisations, UNODC, INTERPOL and FAO.

The Regional Maritime Security programme (MASE Programme) is implemented by Eastern and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean Regional Organisations namely IGAD (overall coordinator), EAC, COMESA and IOC.

MASE is a € 37.5 million EU-funded Programme for the period 2013-2020. Other partners include European missions, UN Agencies (UNODC, FAO), Interpol.

The Programme comprises five result areas which are addressing livelihood concerns of coastal communities against piracy in Somalia; enhancing legal, legislative and infrastructural capabilities to combat piracy and other maritime crimes as well as dismantling financial networks linked to maritime crimes and minimizing their economic impact.

Others are to build and improve capacities for surveillance and control at sea and finally promote and coordinating exchange of maritime information.

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