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25 October 2017

INTERPOL Project Mast aims to strengthen maritime security in Southeast Asia

HANOI, Vietnam – Strengthening maritime security in Southeast Asia is the focus of INTERPOL’s Project Mast which was launched at a meeting in Hanoi.

The two-year capacity building project unveiled at INTERPOL’s Regional Contact Officers Working Group Meeting will target Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam.

Funded by the Government of Canada, Project Mast marks the expansion of two previous capacity building projects to strengthen maritime security in Malaysia and the Philippines, also funded by Canada and implemented by INTERPOL.

Co-hosted by Vietnam and INTERPOL, the two-day (9 ‒ 10 October) meeting in Hanoi gathered 16 officials from 15 different maritime security agencies in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam, including the marine police, coast guard, customs, immigration, and INTERPOL National Central Bureaus (NCBs).

The meeting sought to identify common threats and challenges faced by maritime agencies in each country, raise awareness of INTERPOL operational support available to member countries in the maritime domain, strengthen coordination and foster greater information sharing between maritime law enforcement agencies.

The resulting recommendations on enhancing institutional capacity to strengthen maritime security will directly shape future project activities, including both national and regional trainings.

Addressing delegates at the opening ceremony, INTERPOL Assistant Director for Maritime Security Alfred McGeachy underlined the need for international cooperation in the maritime domain, given the transnational nature of incidents at sea which systematically involve a minimum of two jurisdictions.

Mr McGeachy encouraged maritime law enforcement agencies present to enhance their collaboration through the systematic use of INTERPOL’s global policing capabilities to share information and intelligence.

Major General Tran Duy Thanh, Deputy Director of the Foreign Relations Department of the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security, highlighted the growing threat of terrorism in Southeast Asia and potential risk of increasing kidnappings for ransom at sea, noting that such incidents represent a significant source of revenue for terrorists in the region.
Mr Tran further underscored the necessity for countries to collaborate in order to effectively respond to this threat, stating that “international cooperation in ensuring maritime security is indispensable and urgent.”

H.E. Ping Kitnikone, Ambassador of Canada to Vietnam, underlined the strategic importance of maritime borders in Southeast Asia for global trade and security. The Ambassador affirmed Canada’s commitment to working with INTERPOL and with its member countries in the region to enhance collaboration.

The working group meeting was also attended by the ASEANAPOL Director for Police Services, Ferdinand Bartolome, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Liaison Officer for Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.