INTERPOL anti-piracy meeting targets network leaders with new regional Joint Investigation Team
ZANZIBAR, Tanzania – Targeting the planners, leaders and financiers of maritime piracy networks and boosting investigative capacity is the focus of the first INTERPOL Evidence Exploitation Initiative (EVEXI) anti-piracy case coordination meeting.
The three-day (4 – 6 November) meeting brings together investigators from all five EVEXI countries Kenya, Mauritius, Seychelles, Somalia – including from Somaliland, Galmudug and Puntland – and Tanzania, as well as European prosecutors and the Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecutions and Intelligence Co-ordination Centre (RAPPICC).
In addition to directly sharing information about ongoing maritime piracy investigations and prosecutions, the meeting will also see the creation of the first Joint Investigative Team (JIT) involving Kenya, Seychelles and Tanzania.
This will enable regional investigators and prosecutors to share and review key evidence and identify ways to better coordinate efforts in targeting not only suspected pirates captured at sea but also, as stressed by the UN Security Council in Resolution 2077, ‘the international criminal networks involved in piracy off the coast of Somalia, including those responsible for illicit financing and facilitation.’
Opening the meeting, Mohamed Aboud Mohamed, Minister of State from the Second Vice President’s Office in Zanzibar said: “The means with which the criminal gangs coordinate and operate beyond borders demands equally sophisticated and effective forms of cooperation among African countries and the world at large.
“Given the magnitude of piracy in our region, there is an urgent need to establish robust law enforcement mechanisms and functional judicial systems to deal with piracy. We need to formulate regional strategies that will give a clear road map on combating piracy and other crimes,” concluded Mr Mohamed.
INTERPOL’s Executive Director of Police Services Jean-Michel Louboutin encouraged greater use of the world police body’s global and tools and services to further build on the successes already achieved.
“INTERPOL’s maritime piracy database, which is unique in the world, includes identifiers on pirates and financers and other essential information which is critical to solving cases and linking investigations,” said Mr Louboutin.
“To fully benefit from INTERPOL’s operational tools and services to further transnational investigations, countries need to ensure that the systematic operational coordination and exchange of information becomes the rule rather than the exception,” added Mr Louboutin.
Created by INTERPOL’s Maritime Piracy Task Force in January 2012, the first Project EVEXI was a one-year strategic initiative to provide immediate aid to the law enforcement community by providing a framework for the systematic and coordinated exchange of information.
Under EVEXI, a series of standardized procedures were developed including for interviewing captured pirates and released hostages, gathering legally admissible physical and testimonial evidence, and sharing of intelligence to support existing and future investigations and prosecutions.
Information entered into INTERPOL’s Global Maritime Piracy Database enabled a global analysis of pirate networks and the identification of high-value targets and their assets. INTERPOL Red Notices or internationally wanted persons alerts, have now been issued for a number of key individuals in the networks.
“We have seen how successful the EVEXI model can be in assisting countries coordinate their response to maritime piracy and this joint investigative team will not only see more results, but also provide a blueprint for future cooperation and investigation of transnational organized criminal networks,” said Pierre St Hilaire, Head of INTERPOL’s Maritime Security unit.
Funded by Norway, INTERPOL launched the second project EVEXI in August 2013. Involving Kenya, Mauritius, Tanzania, Seychelles and Somalia, the project will help build their investigative capacity, and coordinate parallel investigations as well as mutual legal assistance requests across the various jurisdictions.