Guyana is making significant strides in improving its capacity to fight maritime trafficking.
Yesterday, Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the implementation of the Seaport Cooperation (SEACOP) project.
The MOU was signed in the presence of Ambassador Jernej Videtič of the European Union and Karen Clarke, Regional Coordinator for the SEACOP Programme.
SEACOP is a programme to train and equip inter-agency units to identify, search and interdict all forms of maritime trafficking, according to a statement from government.
SEACOP improves the capacity of law enforcement agencies in monitoring maritime trafficking and detecting illicit maritime cargoes on board suspected vessels.
Guyana will be able to also access databases and regional and inter-regional networks of partners.
Guyana is a known transshipment point for drugs, with indications of significant smuggling.
“The programme is designed to move law enforcement towards an intelligence-led approach that will help reduce the trafficking of cocaine. The Seaport Cooperation Project will run until December 2018 with a budget of €6 million, and will cover selected countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.”
During the first two phases beginning in 2010, the project was focused on West Africa, where it set up a network of Joint Maritime Control Units (JMCUs) in strategic seaports.
Intercepting drug and other illicit cargo is a critical component of the Cocaine Route Programme, a series of interconnected programmes funded out of the EU Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace.
“Drug traffickers are continuously modifying their routes in response to law enforcement activity. Having established effective units in West Africa, the project is now extending into a number of new countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Guyana, to reflect continuous changes in trafficking routes.”
With the signing of the agreement yesterday, Guyana joined 26 countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean with the MOU for the implementation of SEACOP.
SEACOP is implemented on behalf of the European Union by the Spanish international cooperation agency Fundación Internacional y para Iberoamérica de Administración y Políticas Públicas (FIIAPP).
The first SEACOP specialized training event in Guyana is set to take place from March 6 -10, 2017, for nine law enforcement officials from CANU, the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard. The training will be conducted by experts from the UK Border Force Agency, and will focus on delivering advanced search techniques for a range of vessels.
“This will establish a multi-agency Joint Maritime Control Unit (JMCU) in Guyana, dedicated to the search of vessels. In addition, the project will donate specialised equipment and search tools to the JMCU. A series of mentoring events will follow in subsequent years.”
A second course is planned to be delivered jointly with Jamaican officers in late March 2017, in Jamaica. This course will be conducted by UK National Crime Agency maritime experts. It will be delivered to four vetted officers from Guyanese and four officers from Jamaican law enforcement agencies. The course will focus on advanced maritime intelligence training, providing access to key international partners.
It will create a Maritime Intelligence Unit (MIU). Officers participating in this course will be invited to attend an annual mentoring event which will be attended by all MIU-trained teams which participated in the project, with a view to promoting trans-regional working practices. An annual conference will also be convened to promote trans-regional networks.
The EU’s Cocaine Route Programme, in operation since 2009, has been a strategic response to the threat from drug trafficking and organised crime to the countries along the route from source to market.
Through a number of interconnected and complementary projects, the Cocaine Route Progamme supports the capacity of partners along the route in combating the manufacture of and intercepting the flow of drugs, fighting money laundering and sharing information.
The Cocaine Route Progamme operates in over 40 countries and has a budget in excess of €50 million from the EU Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace.
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