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INTERPOL to create task force against maritime piracy

afrol News, 20 January - The first-ever international conference on maritime piracy financing which has opened at INTERPOL with the aim of fighting maritime piracy through closer global co-operation in financial investigations has heard that INTERPOL is to create an anti-maritime piracy task force.

Hosted by INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, the two-day conference (19-20 January) aims to formulate and provide the international community with a cross-sector platform for information-sharing and alerts on the financial aspects related to maritime piracy cases, and in particular to identify key money trails and networks.

The conference is co-sponsored by the United States Department of State and the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and it brings together some 100 investigators, experts and policy makers from both the public and private sectors from more than 30 countries and from a dozen international organisations.

With law enforcement ‘key’ to tackling maritime piracy, which he described as a transnational organized crime threatening international trade, INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble told the conference that since its launch in 2005, INTERPOL’s Project BADA had laid the foundation for law enforcement to bridge the gap between military interdiction and the prosecution of pirates.

He announced that to further enhance INTERPOL’s contribution to fighting international maritime piracy, the body was to create a dedicated task force. “The role of the task force will be to co-ordinate INTERPOL’s international response to the maritime piracy threat in all its facets,” said Mr Noble, adding that it would maximise the value added by INTERPOL’s multiple components and by its new strategic partnerships across the world, notably with Europol.

Key topics during the conference will include the impact of maritime piracy on the financial environment in the Horn of Africa and neighbouring regions, the role of the private sector (including shipping companies and insurers), asset recovery, alternative money transaction systems, as well as specialist training and best-practice in financial investigations.

The conference will also review maritime piracy in other regions of the world, including West Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and South-east Asia.

With maritime piracy in the Horn of Africa big business, and ransom demands linked to maritime piracy in the region today averaging 2.2 million US dollars, Mr Noble said that pirates would always be looking for easy targets and easy profits.

“To strike at the heart of maritime piracy, we must investigate, understand and use to our advantage the financial component behind each of these attacks”, Mr Noble added. “We must follow the money as part of a global response involving law enforcement against maritime piracy.”

The conference opened just a day after reports said that Somali pirates had freed a Greek-owned oil tanker and its crew of 28 after receiving a record ransom allegedly amounting to between 5.5 and 7 million US dollars.

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