By Wallace Mawire
The United Kingdom Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced a new package of support for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to deliver capacity building assistance worth £2.25m.
Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said his government is committed to continuing the fight against piracy and maritime insecurity wherever it occurs.
“Last year saw a dramatic decline in the number of pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia, a fragile success that the UK was instrumental in achieving. The current announcement of funding will help us build on that success,” Burt said.
The new package includes;
• $1.135m of additional funding to the UNODC’s Post Trial Transfer Programme, to complete the construction of a new prison in Garowe, Puntland, to hold convicted pirates in facilities that meet international standards. Prison capacity remains one of the biggest challenges we face in bringing pirates to justice and it is essential that we provide a targeted, long term solution.
• A $100,000 project to tackle corruption in the Somali penal system. As UNODC continue the process of transferring pirates back to Somalia, we face the risk that convicted pirates may seek to secure early release by the paying bribes to prison staff. The project will extend existing anti-corruption awareness training from Garowe prison to all the prisons in Somalia holding piracy prisoners.
• A $240,000 project to develop the Somali coast guard. Supporting UNODC work with the maritime authorities in Mogadishu, Puntland and Somaliland to begin the process of securing Somalia’s coastline.
Burt said piracy and maritime security are global issues.
“In today’s networked world, instability and disruption of trade in one area is not isolated to a particular country or region, but affects us all. Similarly, the increasing incidence of piracy and maritime crime off Africa’s western seaboard illustrates that, wherever in the world pockets of insecurity exist, criminal elements will seek to exploit it for financial gain. We must be vigilant to such threats and act to neutralise them.”