Maritime crime and piracy
With more than 90% of global trade carried out by sea, the economic effect of maritime crime is a heavy burden on affected nations that rely on shipping and maritime trade activity. The Gulf of Guinea is a major hub for maritime criminality and has over the recent years experienced an escalation of piracy and armed robbery at sea incidents. Existing law enforcement agencies and judicial institutions in the region are not currently equipped and capable enough to respond properly to crime at sea and very few incidents result in arrests, investigations, prosecutions and trials. According to the 2018 Stables Sea State of Maritime Piracy report, the Gulf of Guinea was the area worst affected by piracy and maritime robbery of vessels worldwide. The number of incidents increased by 15% over 2017.
The number of attacks where crew members were held for ransom on hijacked vessels or kidnapped for ransom from vessels was alarmingly high. The region experienced a total of 112 incidents of piracy and armed robbery. Attacks with the aim to highjack vessels for product or ransom, or to kidnap crew for ransom, were unpredictable and opportunistic in nature. Geographically, attacks extended to a wider area of the Gulf of Guinea with a higher concentration of attacks off both Brass and Bonny in Nigeria. High jacking extended as far as Benin and Gabon. Number of attacks the first half of 2019 have gone down compared to the previous year, but the situation is volatile.
The lack of prosecutions related to incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea continues to undermine efforts to combat piracy. This is both due to the current lack of appropriate legislation but is also due to limited apprehension of suspected pirates and poor protection and collection of forensic evidence. It is important for the region to change this trend and ensure that there is no impunity to attacks at sea.
Inter-agency coordination through the development of harmonized standard operating procedures (HSOP) on evidence collection and handling.
Training courses on evidence collection at sea, law of the sea, maritime crime to MLE Agencies. Support of maritime operations, through provision of technical advice and analysis on Maritime Domain Awareness.
Regional and international cooperation through the drafting and signature of agreement and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs).