The necessity to improve regional and international cooperation to secure the maritime domain and collectively enhance the Western Indian Ocean region's capacity to combat piracy and all other transnational organised crimes was highlighted by the Attorney General, Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Institutional Reforms, Mr Maneesh Gobin, today at the Intercontinental Resort, in Balaclava.
The Minister was speaking on behalf of the Chair of the Indian Ocean Commission at the opening ceremony of the Preparatory meeting for the 21st Plenary Session of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS). Mauritius is chairing for the first time this important platform geared towards coordinating actions in the fight against piracy in the Western Indian Ocean region.
In his address Minister Gobin pointed out that the crisis stemming from piracy off the Somali coast has shed light on our region's dependency on external providers of security solutions such as the European Union, the NATO, and other willing coalitions. This assistance has led to a significant drop in the number of acts of piracy in the Indian Ocean, he said. In fact, around 15 Somali pirates were taken into custody during the period 2016-2017.
According to the Attorney General, it is important to continue to address the lack of safety at sea, which is an impediment to the emergence of regional stability and sustained growth and is in the interest of all and not just for the region.
"We in the region have to address security in all its dimensions and give the necessary attention to each of them. Though still focused on piracy, this is in line with the CGPCS which aims at achieving a lasting legacy from the region to the region", Mr Gobin said.
He further indicated that it is within this context that the region has decided to establish a regional mechanism for surveillance and control and contribute to the improvement of maritime security. Two Agreements were signed on 29 April 2018 to that effect.
The Attorney General also spoke of the way forward which comprises broadening CGPCS's range of action to join forces and fight more efficiently the various types of crimes and illegal activities that trouble our maritime zones. For him, this warrants an increased mobilisation of resources for a coordinated action directly involving Indian Ocean States and regional organisations. Only then will the Western Indian Ocean be a truly secure maritime area, for our countries and international trade, he added.
Minister Gobin recalled that the support of members of the CGPCS and the UN and its agencies such as UNODC and development partners namely the EU, the African Development Bank, the World Bank and Partner States is essential to accompany the region for improved maritime capability.
CGPCS Preparatory meeting
The work agenda comprises presentations of activities by CGPCS Key Stakeholders as well as the elaboration of the Work Plan for 2018 followed by exchanges on the following issues: Operations at Sea; Regional Capacity Building; Somali Maritime Security Coordination Committee; Law Enforcement Task Force; Virtual Legal forum; and UN Trust Fund.