UNODC & Partners Protect Maritime Trade Routes in the Indian Ocean

© UNODC / GMCP

Mombasa (Kenya), 4 February 2021 — Over the past few years, maritime trade routes along the Indian Ocean have become critical to the economic development and prosperity of the ‘Global South’. Although facilitating international trade and commerce between East Africa, the Middle East and South/Southeast Asia; these routes have also been exploited by criminal syndicates to transport illicit goods —namely narcotics, counterfeit products and CITES-protected wildlife.

The gaps in maritime law enforcement, under compliance with international safety and security standards, as well as insufficient regional cooperation, have all constituted exacerbating factors that continue to render the region’s seaports highly vulnerable to illegal trafficking. 

However, a series of trainings being held through the Port Security and Safety of Navigation Programme in the seaport of Mombasa, promise to change that. 

Through its Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP) and Container Control Programme (CCP), UNODC joined forces with the European Union to support the training of maritime, port, customs and police administrations, as well as other stakeholders responsible for maritime and port security and safety across nine countries in the region, over the next four years. 

The first of a series of trainings under the programme was officially inaugurated last week. “In this course, we focus on inter-agency cooperation and an integrated, multi-agency approach to port security. Inter-agency collaboration is key to improve security in the port environment,” explained UNODC GMCP expert, Mr. Scott Anbuen Naidoo. 

More than 30 officers from different maritime law enforcement bodies —including Maritime Law Enforcement, Port State Control, Kenya Port Security, Kenya Port Authority, Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya Maritime Authority and Kenya Wildlife Service— joined the training. The occasion granted a space through which to create synergies and build a solid ground for closer future cooperation.

“From the discovery of criminal activities in the seaport or within national waters to the prosecution of the suspected authors, this training has really broadened our scope in the whole crime scene process,” said a participant and Team Leader from the Kenya Revenue Authority, Mr. Khamis Mbarak. 

The inception phase began in 2020, with field visits and virtual meetings with national counterparts where the modalities for implementing the Port Security and Safety of Navigation Programme were discussed at length. 

Over the coming years, UNODC will be implementing the EU Port Security and Safety of Navigation Programme in the following nine countries: Angola, Comoros, Kenya, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles and Tanzania. The project will be rolled out in close collaboration with the International Maritime Organization (IMO), INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization (WCO) — under the coordination of the Indian Ocean Commission.