The First activity of the Centre of Excellence on Maritime Security in Panama

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime strengthens Maritime Security through its Global Container Control Program

Panama, November 15. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC in its initials in English) and the National Customs Authority launched the first training of the new Centre of Excellence to strengthen maritime security in the region.  This training focuses on improving inspection capacity of containers used by ports in Panama, in order to detect illicit cargo, such as: drugs, chemical precursors, weapons, endangered flora and fauna and intellectual property counterfeiting, among others. Always taking into consideration the concealment methods and sophisticated modus operandi used by organized crime nowadays.

Globalization creates countless opportunities for the world trade, and increases the production and consumption of goods in almost every corner of the world. Up to 90 percent of global cargo is transported by sea every year, and up to 420 million containers are intended to transport these goods from one country to another.

"World trade is mainly carried in containers, which means that these containers will be illegally used to transport unlawful goods," said Troels Vester, UNODC Regional Crime Prevention Adviser UNODC during his visit to the Manzanillo Port Terminal in Colón. "A deeper inspection of containers could prevent illicit goods from entering the country and departing towards North America and Europe", added Vester.

Improving technical inspection capacity of containers is of vital importance because more than 11 millions of these containers transit between ports and the Panama Canal every year. Ever since Panama joined the UNODC Global Container Program and The World Customs Organization in October 2009, the number of seizures of illicit goods concealed inside containers has increased considerably due to a better coordination between the government security institutions involved and an objective and scientific exchange of information with international authorities.

The new Centre of Excellence will help to identify threats to maritime security and will have experts and facilities to provide training, data collection and analysis and will also provide advice on search and safety techniques, maritime seizures, trafficking in persons, handling of cargoes with hazardous and toxic substances.

The Centre of Excellence will become a support tool for the new approach of our office, which will benefit the countries of the region and the world, through the effective exchange of information, solution to technical security issues and first class training. All this with the support of the experts provided by UNODC.

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