Issues in the region
Many countries on the coast of East and Southern Africa serve as a source, transit point and destination for men, women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking.
Traffickers use countries with access to the Indian Ocean as transshipment points for weapons, drugs, and other illicit goods coming from Asia and the Middle East and destined for Africa and further north to Europe.
Trafficking in protected animal and plant species is also endemic in the region, while illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is widespread.
Law enforcement authorities across the region often lack the resources to address these issues and need assistance and investment in terms of training, equipment and capacity building.
About the MASE programme
Sponsored by the European Union, the Maritime Security Programme (MASE) is made up of a number of projects to provide the resources needed to enhance maritime security in East and Southern Africa.
At INTERPOL, we have a longstanding presence in Africa thanks to our network of National Central Bureaus and Regional Bureaus, and we play a critical role in implementing these projects.
Tracing financial flows – Project MASE/COMESA
Run under the umbrella of the MASE Programme, Project COMESA provides investigative support and training to six beneficiary countries – Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius, Seychelles, Tanzania – to tackle maritime piracy and related crimes, notably money laundering and terrorism financing.
The project helps our member countries track financial flows linked to maritime crime activities. This is achieved by strengthening existing financial intelligence units and providing training for relevant local law enforcement.
INTERPOL’s support has led to positive results. For example, in a case involving USD 24 million and three countries (India, Kenya and the United Kingdom), officers were able to put their new knowledge into practice, process a Mutual Legal Assistance request, and prosecute the case successfully.
In Mauritius, newly trained officers arrested two French nationals, wanted internationally by the French authorities who had requested INTERPOL Red Notices for them on charges of money laundering.
Developing forensic skills – Project MASE/EAC
Project EAC, also part of the MASE programme, covers eight countries in East and Southern African and the Indian Ocean: Burundi, Kenya, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda.
The aim of the project is to develop forensic and investigative capacities in the region. INTERPOL delivers both training courses and equipment essential to maritime crime-related investigations and prosecution.
These projects build on previous efforts in these regions. Past projects include CRIMLEA, which provided capacity building for selected countries bordering the western Indian Ocean, and EVEXI, which focused on gathering intelligence and forensic evidence in East Africa.