UNODC conducts MROLEX in Seychelles to deal with illegal maritime activities
The exercise is bringing together participants from the coast guards of the respective countries. (Seychelles Nation)
Teams from Seychelles, Mauritius and Kenya dealing directly with illicit maritime activities will apply in practical scenarios the knowledge and skills acquired through previous United Nations Offices on Drugs and Crime's Global Maritime Crime Programme (UNODC) training in a 12-day exercise.
This will take place during the first-ever Maritime Rule of Law Exercise (MROLEX) facilitated by the UNODC and hosted by Seychelles from October 31 to November 11.
The Maritime Law Enforcement Programme officer for the UNODC, David O'Connell, said during the opening ceremony on Monday that MROLEX will serve as a "shift in focus this year to build on the substantial capacity building work that's been done around the region by UNODC and many other partners in recent years."
He said that "in that shift, we're aiming to take some time that would have previously been spent on training and redirect that toward practicing skills that have already been trained on, and integrating all the various different types of training that we've been conducting into a single event."
The exercise is bringing together participants from the coast guards of the respective countries, the Regional Coordination Operation Centre (RCOC), National Information Sharing Coordination Centre (NISCC), and Regional Fusion and Law Enforcement Centre for Safety and Security at Sea (REFLECS3) as well as the Seychelles Police Force and the Seychelles Defence Forces.
A lieutenant at Seychelles' Special Force Unit and an instructor of Vessel Board, Search, and Seizure for Seychelles and UNODC, Luigi Loizeau, told the press that "we cannot limit ourselves only to Seychelles as there are certain operations that go beyond borders and we need to need to maintain good relations with countries that share borders with us."
He said that Seychelles is "also seeing an increase in cases being brought before the court and more soldiers being called to court. As such we have brought along our partners from the Attorney General's Office to participate with us as our first responders should know what the Attorney General's Office needs to build a strong case that will secure a conviction in court."
Loizeau added that securing convictions will serve as a deterrent for civilians engaged in illicit maritime activities such as drug trafficking, smuggling of migrants, weapons trafficking, and illegal fishing, among others.
Participants will take part in theory and practical classes over the course of the 12 days, which include lecturers and presentations, vessel boarding, taking people into custody, evidence handling, going to court, and preparing and presenting cases before the court.