Gov’t, EU sign MoU to reduce maritime cocaine trafficking

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Guyana has joined 26 countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean in signing a Memorandum of Understanding for the implementation of the European Union’s (EU) Seaport Cooperation Programme (SEACOP), aimed at training and equipping inter-agency units to identify search and interdict all forms of maritime trafficking.

Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan signed the MoU with Ambassador of the EU, Jernej Videtic at the Ministry on Brickdam, today. Also present were Regional Coordinator for SEACOP, Karen Clarke and the Heads of the Ministry’s agencies.

Minister Ramjattan said that the Guyana Government welcomes the support. “This is very welcome news to us. We feel that all of this will enhance our capacity in the drug fight.”

The Ministry of Public Security will soon launch its National Drug Strategy Master Plan. Minister Ramjattan said that having persons within the various organisations receive training under the SEACOP programme, would ensure a better quality of personnel to enforce the strategy, and “better capable of doing all of the many things that we want them to do in relations to stopping this scourge of drug trafficking.”

SEACOP aims at improving the capacity of law enforcement agencies in monitoring maritime trafficking and detecting illicit cargo on board vessels. Access to data bases and regional and inter-regional network of partners is designed to move law enforcement towards an intelligence-led approach that will reduce the trafficking of cocaine.

The programme is being implemented on behalf of the EU by the Spanish International Cooperation Agency, La Fundación Internacional y para Iberoamérica de Administración y Políticas Públicas (FIIAPP.) It will run until December 2018 with a budget of €6 million.

Ambassador Videtic said that he is sure the programme would have a positive effect on the security of Guyana and the world. “Transshipments are going through Guyana, and in some occasions they have been found in Europe, so this is why we are working hard to bring SEACOP here,” the Ambassador said.

He said that he is happy that the programme is here and that the officers will receive training, and importantly, establish personal regional and international contact.

The first SEACOP specialised event in Guyana will take place from March 6-10 for nine law enforcement officials from the Customs Anti Narcotic Unit (CANU), the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Guyana Defence Force (GDF). The training will be conducted by experts from the UK Border Force Agency. This course 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, specialised equipment and search tools will be donated to the JMCU.

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, each from Guyana and the Jamaican law enforcement agencies. This course will be focused on advanced maritime intelligence training, providing access to key international partners.

Officers participating in this course will be invited to attend an annual mentoring event attended by all the MIU-trained teams participating in the project, with a view to promoting trans-regional working practices. An annual conference will also be convened to promote trans-regional networks. (GINA)

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