The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) recently took part in the 2nd Ministerial Conference on Maritime Security and the 22nd Plenary Session of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia to address maritime insecurities.
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COMESA raises alarm on illicit financial flows and money laundering

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) recently took part in the 2nd Ministerial Conference on Maritime Security and the 22nd Plenary Session of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia to address maritime insecurities.

“This support provided through the MASE Programme has been invaluable in strengthening the Anti-money laundering regimes of our Member states and it has resulted in some very visible impact.

“Many of the countries that have been supported by the programme now report having stronger Financial Intelligence Units and law enforcement agencies”, stated the Assistant Secretary General of COMESA, Dr Dev Haman during the Ministerial Conference.

Organised by the Republic of Mauritius in collaboration with the Indian Ocean Commission with the support by the #MASE programme funded by the European Union, this International conference brought together over 200 participants from over 30 States and regional and International organisations.

Its objective was to provide an update on Maritime Security issues and on-going initiatives to address them.

There are currently thirty initiatives which aim at addressing maritime insecurities (piracy, drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings, armed attacks, illegal fishing, money laundering, terrorist risk, pollution …) in the Western Indian Ocean.

The delegates participating in the Ministerial Conference called for effective coordination of all these initiatives to avoid overlapping and ensure sustainable security in this actively geopolitical region which is crossed by important global maritime routes.

COMESA, as one of the implementing regional organizations in the Maritime Security Programme (MASE) funded by the EU, raised the issue of illicit financial flows and money laundering linked to transnational maritime crimes.

The COMESA representative stressed on the urgent need to strengthen regional capacity building efforts to ensure resilience with respect to money laundering.

COMESA and INTERPOL collaboration to strengthen regional capabilities to combat illicit financial flows

In the margin of the Ministerial Conference on Maritime Security and part of a series of activities to enhance Maritime Security awareness, the CAPSTONE Workshop was held from 12th to 14th June 2019 at Intercontinental Hotel in Mauritius.

Its objective was to provide an update on Maritime Security issues and on-going initiatives to address them.
Its objective was to provide an update on Maritime Security issues and on-going initiatives to address them.

Organised by COMESA and INTERPOL, this workshop brought together various Law Enforcement agencies (LEA’s) and Financial Intelligence Units (FIU’s) from twelve countries of Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania and Zambia.

The workshop aimed at sensitizing on financial crimes, illicit flows, international standards, financial investigation techniques, among other pertinent issues.

Welcomed and appreciated by all participants, the CAPSTONE workshop enabled to establish a strong network bond between stakeholders and jurisdictions in view of developing in the future, a forum for communication to exchange and share information and further provide peer-support when required.

Since 2015, COMESA and INTERPOL have partnered in implementing COMESA Maritime Security (MASE) programme, a component of the EU-funded MASE programme covering the Eastern and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean (ESA-IO) region.

While the mandate of COMESA is to address the economic effects of piracy in the said region through building capacity to disrupt financial networks of pirates and their financiers.

INTERPOL provides technical support to develop and establish robust competencies and strengthen the expertise of various Law Enforcement Agencies.

Furthermore, COMESA employs a holistic approach to ensure that all, if not a wide range of illicit flows are curbed, through the implementation of an anti-money laundering programme, in line with the international standards as provided by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).