Efforts towards a better coordination on maritime crime

This activity was funded by the United States

In recent years, the Gulf of Guinea has become the epicenter of maritime crime in Africa. While one of the main causes of this challenge lies in the lack of cooperation between States, maritime crime and piracy are direct threats to the economies in the region. Efforts are increasingly made to tackle this phenomenon, and the signing of the Lomé Charter in Togo at the African Union Summit on Maritime Security and Development in Africa on 15 October 2016 represents a major step towards effective regional cooperation.

Following the signing of the Charter, a regional workshop on piracy and maritime crime took place in Gabon from 6 to 9 June 2017. During this workshop, judges, prosecutors and magistrates from Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire and Gabon. This exercise, organized as part of UNODC Global Maritime Crime Programme, provided training for 30 practitioners, focusing mainly on the State action at sea and the adequate penal responses to address the issue of maritime crime.

During the session, the knowledge acquired by the participants was sanctioned by a final exercise taking the form of a mock-trial that allowed them to use concepts examined during the training. This meeting also facilitated the exchange and sharing of information between senior officials from the three countries. Thus, allowing a better coordination between them.

The participants after the training in Libreville

Two similar events were held previously by UNODC in West Africa. The first meeting took place in December 2016 in Abidjan and the second in Yaoundé in March 2017. An upcoming meeting in Accra, to be held in September 2017, will serve as a closing session. After these meetings, UNODC will have trained nearly 250 people on the legal frameworks related to maritime crime and piracy.

In addition, the Global Maritime Crime Programme  in West Africa also organized several coordination meetings between 8 States in the region (Benin, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon Ghana, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe and Togo). The objectives of these meetings were twofold. First,  UNODC wanted to gather stakeholders to inform them on the legislation existing in their countries and the improvements that could be made in this regard. Moreover, the purpose of these meetings was to create and strengthen judicial cooperation between the countries of the Gulf of Guinea.

Finally, in the framework of the Programme, international experts have integrated institutions that play a crucial role in the eradication of this phenomenon in Ghana, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe and Sierra Leone. The role of the experts is to help governments understand and apply the rules of criminal law at sea. They are also responsible for supporting the operational dimension of this project.

Beginning in 2015, this program helps governments of the Gulf of Guinea in adapting the tools and legislation to the evolutions of the maritime crime that prevails in these waters.

For more information :

UNODC Global Maritime Crime Programme in the Altantic Ocean

UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

Signing of the Lomé Chart during the African Union Summit in October 2016