Seychelles hosts UNODC’s maritime rule of law exercise for regional partners

For the second year running, Seychelles is hosting the Maritime Rule of Law Exercise of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The first part of the exercise has ended and participants from Seychelles, Mauritius and Somalia received their certificates on Tuesday. The second part of the training that Seychelles will host will feature Comoros, Djibouti…

For the second year running, Seychelles is hosting the Maritime Rule of Law Exercise (MROLEX) of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The first part of the exercise has ended and participants from Seychelles, Mauritius and Somalia received their certificates on Tuesday.

It took place from October 18 to 31 with 32 participants, including soldiers accompanied by two observers.

The second part of the training that Seychelles will host will feature Comoros, Djibouti and Madagascar.

The three-part exercise is a simulated operation that integrates all areas of expertise from vessel detection, vessel boarding, prosecution of a maritime crime and the maintenance of vessels.

After a series of national-level table-top exercises delivered in the country to all signatory states of the Maritime Security in the Eastern and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean Region (MASE) agreement, a team of experts of the Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP) will facilitate two maritime rule of law exercises at its advanced regional training centre in Seychelles.

The exercise is designed to integrate the skills and knowledge of previous training that GMCP has done while establishing an environment to apply these to practical problems.

In his address at the closing ceremony of the first part of the exercise, the Minister for Internal Affairs and Immigration, Errol Fonseka, said it was an honour for Seychelles to host this regional maritime security exercise for countries in the western Indian Ocean.

“While the various country teams convene in Seychelles, they are also afforded the opportunity to learn from one another and establish contacts with fellow law enforcement personnel from neighbouring countries,” said the minister.

Fonseka added that “such relations form the basis for the joint effort that is required to enhance maritime security capabilities for the region.”

He said that islands and coastal states remain vulnerable to the ever-evolving risks posed by illicit acts at sea.

“Over the past few years, the prevalence of illicit activities within our region’s maritime space has provided much cause for concern, as evidenced by an upsurge in the number of seizures of vessels involved in narcotics and illegal fishing related incidents,” said Fonseka.

The travelling team of experts consists of a legal expert, a maritime law enforcement expert, a maritime maintenance expert and a maritime domain awareness (MDA) expert.

The exercises will have regional participation but will be grouped by English-speaking, French-speaking, and Swahili-speaking countries for ease of communication and fluidity throughout the exercise.

“I speak on behalf of Seychelles, yet I am certain that these sentiments resonate with you all in the room – capacity building, strengthening of regional information-sharing and cooperation, and improved knowledge and skills are all key to addressing our common threats,” said Fonseka.

He added that UNODC’s MROLEX and the international composition of participants provide the opportunity for the exchange of perspectives and best practices.

“This also creates a professional network which may be exploited for sharing of information and improving collaboration to tackle common threats and challenges on a regional and international level,” added Fonseka.