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06 October 2012

INTERPOL and NATO cooperation set to boost global efforts against maritime piracy

LYON, France ‒ An information-sharing agreement between NATO and INTERPOL’s global law enforcement network on information gathered during NATO maritime operations was the focus on Friday of the first high-level visit to INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters by NATO, whose delegation was led by Ambassador Rick Froh, NATO’s Deputy Assistant Secretary General.

Under a three-month-long joint pilot initiative to be launched in late 2012, piracy-related information collected by NATO naval forces operating off the Horn of Africa as part of Operation Ocean Shield will be shared with INTERPOL National Central Bureaus to the fullest extent possible, taking into account national restrictions which may apply.

The information will be preserved in accordance with INTERPOL’s rules on the processing of data and fully exploited by law enforcement to help determine any links within the evidence and prosecution framework in relation to suspected pirates and the identification of associated criminal networks.

INTERPOL Executive Director of Police Services Jean-Michel Louboutin said the joint initiative recognized the central role of global law enforcement and INTERPOL in information-sharing to combat the criminal networks behind maritime piracy.

“International law enforcement provides the critical link between detentions made through military interventions on the seas and the investigation and prosecution of maritime pirates and associated criminal networks on land,” said Mr Louboutin. “Since a collective approach pooling intelligence and resources is essential against maritime piracy, this strategic initiative between INTERPOL and NATO is a significant step in enhancing global action against maritime piracy.”

Created in January 2010, INTERPOL’s Maritime Piracy Task Force focuses on three areas to counter maritime piracy, working closely with the international community: improving evidence collection, facilitating information exchange and developing the capabilities of police investigation units on a regional level.

"The analytical support and training which INTERPOL provides to law enforcement and national naval forces in particular aims to encourage uniformity in evidence gathering for investigations carried out over multiple locations. Through our collaboration, and with NATO having apprehended dozens of suspected pirates in disruption operations off the coast of Somalia this year, successfully prosecuting these individuals will help counter this persistent threat," added the head of INTERPOL's Maritime Piracy Task Force, Pierre St Hilaire.

INTERPOL has developed a maritime piracy global database to better analyze piracy networks and streamline intelligence, and to help its member countries identify and arrest high-value individuals involved in Somali maritime piracy ‒ such as piracy leaders and financiers ‒ and to identify their assets. The database currently contains some 11,000 items of data, including the details of more than 1,100 individuals with alleged links to maritime piracy.