GIS - 9 October 2014: A new Wing to house suspected pirates was inaugurated yesterday afternoon at the Central Prison in Beau Bassin in the presence of the Senior Chief Executive of the Prime Minister’s Office, Mrs K.O Fong Weng-Poorun; the Head of Delegation of the European Union, Mr Aldo Dell’ Ariccia; and the Commissioner of Prisons, Mr Jean Bruneau.
This new facility is the result of the collaboration between Mauritius and the European Union in the fight against the scourge of piracy. It can accommodate 60 detainees and is endowed with all the necessary facilities geared towards ensuring humane condition for detention.
The European Union, through the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), has financed the construction of the one-storey Pirates Wing to the tune of Rs 43 million. The contract for the construction was awarded to Pro-construction and Renovation Works Ltd. Works started in May 2013 and were completed in June 2014.
In July 2011 Mauritius entered into an agreement with the European Union for the transfer of suspected Somali pirates to Mauritius for the purpose of their detention prior to trial. The construction of the new Pirates wing forms part of the Transfer agreement.
By virtue of this agreement, funds worth three million euros were provided under the 10th European Development Fund to assist Mauritius in the implementation of the project. It comprised the construction of a new prison and a courtroom. Assistance was also provided through the UNODC to the tune of 1,080,000 euros to implement short term measures such as legislative review, upgrading works at the Central Prison of Beau Bassin, provision of interpreters and training programmes for Police investigators, prosecutors, Prison Officers and members of the Judiciary.
Before the construction of the new Pirates wing, the suspected pirates were kept in the ex-Segregation and Protection Unit. A total of 12 suspected pirates were admitted there from 7 to 22 February 2013.
In her address at the inauguration ceremony, Mrs Fong Weng-Poorun recalled that the upsurge in the number of maritime piracy incidents gave rise to a global concern as it considerably affected not only the African States in the region but also the wider interest of the international community, with serious impacts on our economies, imports and exports of goods by sea, cruise ship calls, fishing and fish processing industry as well as the tourism sector. According to a Report of Bellish, the economic cost of Somali piracy to the international community in 2013 worked out to 6.1 billion dollars, she stated.
The Senior Chief Executive pointed out that in the face of the challenges that piracy represented in the Indian Ocean and in a spirit of regional cooperation, Mauritius has played and continues to play an active role in the struggle against piracy. Our country remains committed to honouring its obligations under the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea and relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, she added.
Speaking about measures taken by Mauritius to ensure maritime security, Mrs Fong Weng-Poorun outlined that a National Plan to combat maritime piracy has been adopted since October 2010. Other measures include: setting up of a National Coast Guard Commando Team for anti-piracy operations since 2009; increased surveillance operations by the National Coast Guard vessels and Dornier aircraft in our exclusive economic zone; installation of a Vessel Monitoring System to track the positioning of all Mauritian vessels; acquisition of an Offshore Patrol Vessel to the tune of US$ 58.5 million to enhance naval capability; and acquisition of a Waterjet Fast Attack Craft and ten Fast Interceptor boats.
For his part the Head of Delegation of the European Union, Mr Aldo Dell’ Ariccia, underlined the constructive role played by Mauritius in the fight against piracy. Mauritius, he said plays a very pro-active role in the international fight against piracy and the promotion of maritime security. The EU and Mauritius are in close policy dialogue over this challenging subject, he added.
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