GIS – September 16, 2014: Maritime security and tackling maritime crime in the Indian Ocean region was the focus of a high-level briefing held yesterday at the seat of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Secretariat, in Ebène. Discussions were held in the context of the official visit to Mauritius, from 13 to 15 September 2014, of the Minister for Foreign Affairs in Australia's Federal Coalition Government, Ms Julie Bishop, MP, as part of an Indian Ocean tour.
The Mauritian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Dr Arvin Boolell; the Foreign Affairs Minister of Seychelles, Mr Jean Paul Adam; the Secretary-General of the IORA, Ambassador Bhagirath; the Australian High Commissioner to Mauritius, Ms Susan Coles, as well as other high officials participated in the high-level briefing.
The briefing enabled stakeholders to outline the importance of ensuring and maintaining maritime security in the Indian Ocean region as it is vital for trade and economic activities. Focus was also on sharing of information, as well as on the need for all partners to work in a concerted manner with enhanced cooperation to fight maritime crime in the region. Maritime crime pertains not solely to the serious issue of piracy but also other problematic such as trafficking of drugs, arms, people, and prohibited goods, migrant smuggling and illicit fishing.
A presentation on the proposed United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) – IORA project on maritime security was also made during the working session. In fact, the concept proposal pertains to the formulation of a Western Indian Ocean Maritime Crime Forum which will provide Western Indian Ocean States a regional network to better coordinate their response to maritime crime concerns at the diplomatic, strategic and capacity-development levels.
After the working session, a group of Mauritian Police cadets who have completed a regional UNODC training course on maritime crime law enforcement and correctional administration was invited to meet the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister.
In her congratulatory remarks to recipients, Minister Bishop said that piracy, drugs smuggling, people trafficking, smuggling of goods, arms trade are all issues that have to be tackled and as such the support of highly capable and skilled professionals are required.
According to the Minister, the focus on law enforcement and correctional administration is vital if the activities of these crime syndicates that put the security of our region at risk are to be disrupted.
‘The Indian Ocean is very much part of Australia’s foreign policy. Indeed we describe our region as the Indian Ocean Asia Pacific. In the past emphasis was far more on the Asia Pacific but we have recognised the importance and the dynamics of the region of the Indian Ocean and we want to play our part with the countries particularly the small island countries in this region who are doing so much to tackle crime that is occurring in our waters’, she said.
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