Colombo (Sri Lanka), 6 March 2020 - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP) delivered two 3-day basic rummaging (vessel searching) training courses for maritime law enforcement officers in the Maldives and the Seychelles in cooperation with Sri Lanka Customs.
In the Maldives, 15 officers from the Maldives Customs Service were trained in Malé (Maldives) from 16 to 19 February. In the Seychelles, the course was held from 24 to 26 February and was attended by 10 officers from the Seychelles Customs, the Seychelles Anti-Narcotics Bureau and the Marine Police Unit, three of whom were women.
UNODC-GMCP complemented the course with the provision and use of protective equipment and searching tools to ensure safety and facilitate officers' operations on board. The courses were delivered by two GMCP experts and supported by two officers of Sri Lanka Customs, greatly experienced in advanced rummaging techniques.
The courses included classroom sessions pertaining to existing research on maritime criminality trends in respective jurisdictions, an overview of international safety and security regulations and conventions applicable at sea, as well as practical sessions on personal searching techniques.
In the Maldives, trainees had the opportunity to inspect a container vessel and a small cargo ship at the Port of Malé, while in the Seychelles, they boarded a dhow. This allowed trainees to apply the acquired theoretical knowledge through well-prepared simulated scenarios and hands-on exercises with the aim of improving their skills in the identification of restricted goods, illicit narcotics, weapon trafficking and irregular migratory activity. The rummaging training courses, and the protective equipment delivered in the Maldives and the Seychelles have been provided with financial support of the Government of Japan.
This is the first rummaging training course delivered by UNODC-GMCP and one of the first activities implemented by the newly established GMCP's Indian Ocean East Team. This regional team emerged after the splitting of the Indian Ocean Team into two, the Indian Ocean West and East Teams, in an endeavour to better identify and address increasingly diverse challenges of targeted Member States in disrupting and countering transnational organized crime by sea more effectively.
The Indian Ocean East Team covers programmes in Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bangladesh, the Seychelles and Myanmar, engaging with maritime law enforcement agencies and other relevant stakeholders, to continue strengthening the capability of Member States to combat maritime crime.
Masatomo Yamaguchi, recently appointed as Programme Coordinator of this new team said: "The creation of a dedicated team for the Indian Ocean East reflects growing trend of criminality at sea in the region and enables GMCP to provide more focused and targeted assistance for the Member States, having staff based in the field and working with national stakeholders more closely. We also seek to facilitate spaces for the fruitful exchange of good practices and knowledge among countries, which GMCP encourages by promoting international cooperation and collaboration in addressing maritime crime threats and challenges."