Just one year after President James Michel attended a high-level gathering on piracy in London and signed an accord with British Prime Minister David Cameron for the creation of a¬†Regional Piracy Prosecution and Intelligence Coordination Centre (RAPPICC) in Seychelles, the facility was inaugurated Monday.
President Michel and Britain‚Äôs Minister for Maritime Security, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Hon Alistair Burt, unveiled a commemorative plaque to open the brand new building, funded by the British Government¬†and standing on the site of the former Seychelles Coastguards base. Ground breaking for the building, was on August 13, 2012, when the Minister for Home Affairs and Transport, Joel Morgan and British High Commissioner Lindsay Skoll, shovels in hand, dug into what was then an open field.
This comes a number of years¬†after we have witnessed the impact which pirate attacks on commercial and private vessels have brought to bear on our country and the world. And particularly devastating, were the effects of such pirate attacks on sailors, who bravely travelled the waters off the Horn of Africa and the northern reaches of the Indian Ocean.
The Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecution and Intelligence Coordination Centre will complement existing investigation bodies around the world, by¬†bringing together the capabilities of a range of partners to progress intelligence and evidential products to a successful conclusion.
By working closely¬†with other key supporting¬†stakeholders, the RAPPICC will focus¬†on supporting partners to tackle those individuals¬†who control, finance and support¬†piracy-related transnational organised crime in the region.
The Centre follows a design concept¬†that incorporates an open-plan ‚Äúfusion -cell‚Äù area where colleagues can work together¬†in close cooperation.¬† The Centre also includes outstanding conference and training facilities within the building, supported by an exiting range of high-definition information technology, which will be of significant value to¬†partners on the island and visiting colleagues.
The RAPPICC has three specific operational objectives which are;
1. Intelligence gathering. This includes¬†the facilitation and development of information.
2. Investigation and Prosecution- to support investigations
3. Capacity building. This is to build capacity, competence and capabilities.
In his inaugural address, Mr. Morgan RAPPICC‚Äôs immediate intention is to¬†undermine the piracy business model by bringing pirate leaders, financiers and enablers to justice, by depriving them of the proceeds and benefits of their crimes. He¬†said the strategic impact of RAPPICC will be to create a multi-disciplinary, multinational centre in the region for transnational law enforcement cooperation. He noted this is soundly based on the legal framework provided by the United Nations Transnational Organised Crime Unit¬†(UNTOC) and supported by other international laws and conventions.
He noted that National Crime Bureaus exist in over 160 countries interconnected by INTERPOL‚Äôs i-24-7 network and creating access to a range of databases holding transnational data on crime.
Mr. Morgan said the Piracy Database developed in the INTERPOL Washington office and now residing at headquarters in Lyon, France, represents a global law enforcement resource on piracy leaders, networks and incidents. EUROPOL also has significant analytical resources to offer.
The RAPPICC will leverage these existing¬†structures and services to catalyse intelligence¬†development and sharing¬†on piracy crime networks.
Mr. Morgan¬†noted that Seychelles has a strong record of collaboration on prosecuting pirate organisers.
As examples, he¬†said that in conjunction with Interpol, the US, Norway and France, Seychelles has created the Evidence Exploitation Initiative to ensure¬†that all evidence derived¬†through the transfer of pirate suspects for prosecution, is shared with our partners.
This has led to Seychelles being in the top three contributors in the World¬†to the Interpol Global Database.
– Seychelles has also issued four international arrest warrants for piracy organisers, which have been globalised through the Interpol‚Äôs network.
-The Attorney General‚Äôs Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Home Affairs and Transport Ministry have worked with other States to transfer¬†evidence for use in prosecutions. We have even extradited a notorious pirate captain to Belgium, where he was convicted with the help of evidence supplied by Seychelles.
– In the first RAPPICC Evidential Exchange Workshop hosted in January of this year, evidence was formally transferred to the USA, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany, enabling our partners to develop international arrest warrants against key piracy leaders.
– These include¬†pirate organisers and kigpins, such as Abdullahin Hassan Afrayne and Mohamed Garfanje Ali Dulai and their financiers.