Guyana has joined 26 countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean in signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the implementation of the Seaport Cooperation Project (SEACOP), which aims to clamp down on maritime trafficking.
Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan on Wednesday signed the MoU on the implementation of SEACOP in the presence of the European Union (EU) Ambassador Jernej Videtic and Ms Karen Clarke, Regional Coordinator for the SEACOP programme.
SEACOP is a programme to train and equip inter-agency units to identify, search and interdict all forms of maritime trafficking.
SEACOP improves the capacity of law enforcement agencies in monitoring maritime trafficking and detecting illicit maritime cargoes on-board suspect vessels. Access to databases and regional and inter-regional networks of partners is designed to move law enforcement towards an intelligence-led approach that will help reduce the trafficking of cocaine.
The Seaport Cooperation Project will run until December 2018 with a budget of €6 million and will cover selected countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
During the first two phases which began in 2010, the project was focused on West Africa, where it set up a network of Joint Maritime Control Units (JMCUs) in strategic seaports.
Intercepting drug and other illicit cargoes is a critical component of the Cocaine Route Programme, a series of interconnected programmes funded out of the EU Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace. Drug traffickers are continuously modifying their routes in response to law enforcement activity.
Having established effective units in West Africa, the project is now extending into a number of new countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Guyana, to reflect continuous changes in trafficking routes.
The first SEACOP specialised training event in Guyana will take place from March 6-10, 2017, and will see nine law enforcement officials from Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Coast Guard being trained.
The training will be conducted by experts from the UK Border Force Agency and the course will focus on delivering advanced search techniques for a range of vessels. This will establish a multi-agency Joint Maritime Control Unit (JMCU) in Guyana, dedicated to the search of vessels. In addition, the project will donate specialised equipment and search tools to the JMCU. A series of mentoring events will follow in subsequent years.
A second course is planned to be delivered jointly with Jamaican officers in late March 2017 in Jamaica. This course will be conducted by UK National Crime Agency maritime experts and it will be delivered to four vetted officers from Guyana and four vetted officers from Jamaican law enforcement agencies.
This course will be focused on advanced maritime intelligence training, providing access to key international partners. The course will create a Maritime Intelligence Unit (MIU). Officers participating in this course will be invited to attend an annual mentoring event,which will be attended by all MIU-trained teams participating in the project, with a view in promoting trans-regional working practices. An annual conference will also be convened to promote trans-regional networks.