The meeting, which officially opened on Monday at the Savoy Resort & Spa at Beau Vallon, has brought together 55 delegates ranging from senior officials from drug enforcement agencies, and police services to prosecutors from 17 countries including Seychelles and six observer organisations.
The Indian Ocean Forum on Maritime Crime (IOFMC) technical level meeting on Heroin Trafficking in the maritime domain has been organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
It aims to strengthen existing approaches to fight maritime drug trafficking, analyse research findings conducted on drug routes in the region, discuss legislation for drug prosecutions and support required by regional states, discuss and share best practices in fighting such crimes, seek ways to better coordinate information sharing on maritime crime and in line with that, work towards a track and report mechanism among regional states and develop a focal point mechanism for expedited flag-state response.
The attorney general Ronny Govinden and the chief officer of the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA) Niall Scully, the head of the gobal maritime crime programme of the UNODC Alan Cole, the UNODC programme officer in Seychelles Shanaka Jayasekara are among key personnel to chair panel discussions on related issues.
The Minister for Home Affairs Charles Bastienne officially launched the discussion sessions.
In his opening remarks Minister Bastienne welcomed such a forum to discuss a matter of utmost importance.
“This Indian Ocean Forum on Maritime Crime (IOFMC) technical level meeting on heroin trafficking in maritime domain is of utmost importance for the region, a region which is vulnerable to all sorts of scourges, and maritime drug trafficking is not an exception,” Minister Bastienne pointed out.
He reminded everyone present that Seychelles is no stranger to the effect of maritime crime.
“Seychelles was greatly affected by the maritime piracy a few years ago, but we rose up to the challenges of piracy, and demonstrated not only by word, but by deed our resolute stand in countering such illegal activity,” Minister Bastienne noted.
But Minister Bastienne pointed out that while we may be relatively safe from piracy, the rapid pace of development in our region is now bringing about new challenges; the most notorious one being drug trafficking, be it on our maritime routes or right on our native lands.
“There is no doubt that it would be catastrophic if traffickers keep finding their ways to ship large consignment of drugs in our region through our maritime routes, eventually reaching our shores,” Minister Bastienne pointed out.
He stressed on the need for countries of the region to ensure that these routes remain safe and clear as they are more than ever of paramount importance for the region and small island states like Seychelles.
“This is a challenge we cannot lose; defeat by narcotics trafficking will destroy our societies, our hard work, our successes, and most of all our future generations,” Minister Bastienne stressed.