Maritime piracy investigations boosted by INTERPOL and NATO framework on information sharing

9 May 2012

LYON, France – International efforts to combat maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia have been significantly enhanced following an agreement which will see NATO share piracy-related information with INTERPOL’s global law enforcement network.

Under the initiative, 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 correctly preserved and fully exploited by law enforcement  and will help determine any links within the evidence and prosecution framework in relation to suspected pirates and the identification of associated criminal networks.

“A collective approach pooling intelligence and resources through strategic partnerships is essential to fight maritime piracy. This agreement between INTERPOL and NATO therefore represents a significant development in enhancing global action against maritime piracy and endorses INTERPOL’s  central role in information sharing to combat the criminal networks behind maritime piracy,” said the Head of INTERPOL’s Maritime Piracy Taskforce, Pierre St Hilaire.

“It recognizes that 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,” added Mr St Hilaire.

Created in January 2010, INTERPOL’s Maritime Piracy Task Force focuses on three main 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.  Already this year NATO has apprehended dozens of suspected pirates in disruption operations off the coast of Somalia.  Successfully prosecuting these individuals will help counter this persistent threat.

INTERPOL has developed a Global Database on Maritime Piracy to better analyze piracy networks 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 the details of more than 800 individuals with alleged links to maritime piracy.

INTERPOL’s role against maritime piracy has previously been established by the United Nations Security Council which in November 2011 unanimously endorsed Resolution 2020 (2011) urging all of its member states to share information with INTERPOL as part of a comprehensive global response to maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia.

Similarly, a Decision adopted by the European Union in December 2010 saw the EU’s on-going military operation against maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia, Operation Atalanta, use INTERPOL’s global network and tools to fight the criminal networks behind piracy in the Gulf of Aden.