Donor: United States Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL)
Budget: EUR 6.2 million
Key success: 664 officials trained through 53 capacity building activities (from February 2015 to April 2020)
The Gulf of Guinea and surrounding countries, stretching from Senegal in the north to Angola in the south, is a vital intersection and hub for international trade.
Oil from Nigeria and other oil-producing nations is shipped across these strategic waters, as are goods transiting to and from the rest of Africa and other regions. Criminals target merchant ships and their crew along West Africa’s maritime trade routes.
The threats are multifaceted and transnational, making it necessary for a wide range of law enforcement agencies from different countries to work together to ensure the safety and security of the maritime environment.
INTERPOL’s Project AGWE enhances maritime law enforcement capabilities in five countries in the Gulf of Guinea – Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo – by linking first responders, investigators and prosecutors, and increasing cross-border collaboration.
Activities under Project AGWE include:
- Training: an introduction to the international methodologies of investigating and prosecuting maritime piracy and other maritime-based organized crime.
- Mock crime scenes and trials: INTERPOL experts create scenarios, based on real cases that occurred in the region, and provide “evidence” for first responders, law enforcement officials and prosecutors to practice the application of the law.
- Exchange visits and case coordination meetings: officials from beneficiary countries work side by side with their colleagues in other countries and discuss cases of common interest or concern.
These activities contribute to building a regional network of experts who are equipped to conduct successful maritime crime investigations and prosecutions, strengthen interagency relationships, and facilitate the exchange of maritime-related information.
Applying the training to real cases
A case coordination meeting in December 2019 enabled participants to share intelligence on ongoing and historical maritime cases in the Gulf of Guinea.
For the first time under the auspices of Project AGWE, the Coordination meeting brought together the project’s five beneficiary countries – Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo – as well as representatives from France, Germany, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
In March 2019, five mock crime scene exercises were held in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo.
Officers built on their previous training under Project AGWE through an exercise known as Obangame Express which simulated the processes involved in interagency cooperation and collection of evidence. These officers are now involved in live piracy and maritime crime investigations, where they are proactively applying the skills acquired during the training courses.