IMO looks at West and Central Africa piracy

Koji Sekimizu: “We look forward to continuing to work… together to repress piracy, armed robbery against ships and other illicit maritime activity off the coasts of west and central Africa” Koji Sekimizu: “We look forward to continuing to work… together to repress piracy, armed robbery against ships and other illicit maritime activity off the coasts of west and central Africa”

The International Maritime Organization has pledged its support to assist with the implementation of a new Code of Conduct concerning the prevention and repression of piracy, armed robbery against ships and illicit maritime activity in west and central Africa.

The Code was expected to be opened for signature at the meeting of the Heads of State and Government of Central and West African States, due to be held in Yaoundé, Cameroon, in May.

Welcoming the adoption of the Code, IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu said that IMO was ready to support the countries in the region in its implementation.

“IMO has been working for a number of years with international development partners on a number of activities aimed at enhancing the ability of individual States in the region, and the wider sub-region, to build a sustainable maritime capacity and we look forward to continuing to work with them to support the implementation of this Code and to work together to repress piracy, armed robbery against ships and other illicit maritime activity off the coasts of west and central Africa,” Mr. Sekimizu said. “We look forward to continuing to work with the countries to assist in the implementation of this new Code.”

The Code was developed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). IMO assisted ECOWAS in drafting the Code.

Signatories to the Code intend to co-operate to the fullest possible extent in the prevention and repression of piracy, armed robbery and other organized maritime crime. The measures are expected to encourage the sharing and reporting of relevant information; to interdicti ships and/or aircraft suspected of engaging in illegal activities at sea; to ensure that persons committing or attempting to commit illegal activities at sea are apprehended and prosecuted; and to facilitate proper care, treatment, and repatriation for individuals subject to illegal activities at sea, particularly those subjected to violence.

Whilst promoting regional co-operation, the Code recognises the principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity of States and that of non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other States.

IMO has been involved in technical assistance projects relating to the maritime field in the region for many years and established a regional presence in west Africa in 1999. IMO currently has two regional coordinators based in Côte d’Ivoire for west and central Africa (Francophone) and Ghana for west and central Africa (Anglophone).

More recently, IMO has been conducting a series of “table top exercises” aimed at developing and promoting a multi-agency, whole of government approach to maritime security and maritime law enforcement issues in States throughout the region.

IMO is supporting the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) and the Government of Ghana to develop the Maritime Trade Information Sharing Centre (MTISC) in Ghana. Funding for this work has come from IMO’s global maritime security capacity-building programme, with particular support from the Governments of Norway and the USA.

In relation to piracy off the coast of Somalia and in the wider Indian Ocean, 20 States have now signed the Code of Conduct concerning the Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden (Djibouti Code of Conduct), which was adopted in 2009.

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