UNODC hosts special event to discuss rise of maritime southern route for narcotics trafficking and the prosecution of drug traffickers caught in international waters.
Vienna, 9 September 2014 – Speaking at the opening of a UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s special event on maritime crime, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said the inability to prosecute traffickers detected on the high seas remained a major challenge.
“As we have seen, drug seizures alone have not deterred the criminals, who remain at large due to a lack of enforcement capacity. If we want to contain the problem of heroin trafficking through the Indian Ocean, we need to explore options for prosecuting drug traffickers,” said Mr. Fedotov.
Mr. Fedotov noted that, in the past eighteen months, the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) had seized around 4,200 kilograms of heroin during counter-piracy and counter-terrorism missions in the waters off Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. But, because the seizures occurred in international waters, the CMF was forced to set the traffickers free.
To prevent “…a culture of impunity on the high seas” from flourishing, Mr. Fedotov said, UNODC’s Maritime Crime Programme was developing programmes in Sri Lanka, the United Republic of Tanzania and Seychelles including information sharing, joint investigations and legal responses. In doing so, UNODC is seeking to leverage its invaluable experience of working with East African states to successfully prosecute and incarcerate pirates.
Over the last four years there has been a dramatic shift towards the southern route for the delivery by sea of heroin and other drugs to Africa, Europe and Asia. The narcotics are taken by dhows sailing from the Makran coast and their consignments transferred to smaller vessels destined for the East African coast.
In his own presentation, Joel Morgan, Minister of Home Affairs, Seychelles said, “Seychelles intends to leverage its successful counter-piracy programme to confront transnational organized crime, especially trafficking of illicit drugs and weapons. Central to this work is the Regional Fusion and Law Enforcement Centre for Safety and Security at Sea – REFLECS3 – which has a wealth of experience coordinating and analysing information from different law enforcement and military intelligence centers around the world.”
The event titled, “Success of the Piracy Prosecution Model: A Blueprint to End Impunity at Sea” was attended by permanent representatives, experts, and media. Speakers included Yury Fedotov, Executive Director, UNODC, Keith Blount, Deputy Commander, CMF, Joel Morgan, Minister of Home Affairs, Seychelles, Raymond St Ange, Advisor, Ministry of Home Affairs, Seychelles, Rogers William Siyanga, President’s Office, Tanzania, David Stuart, Permanent Representative of Australia, Aliyar Lebbe Abdul Azeez, Permanent Representative, Sri Lanka, and Alan Cole, Head of the Maritime Crime Programme, UNODC.
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