VICTORIA, Mahé – A delegation from Seychelles, headed by Minister for Home Affairs, Environment and Transport, Mr. Joel Morgan, participated in the 2nd Regional Ministerial Meeting on Piracy and Maritime Security in tEastern and Southern Africa held in Grand Baie, Mauritius, this week.
The senior officers’ meeting was dominated by an in-depth review of the proposed Regional Strategy and Action Plan, which was drafted in Seychelles earlier this year, the results of which were adopted by the ministerial meeting that followed. The plan outlines a program for the ESA-IO member countries spread across the next 15 years, with immediate actions earmarked for the first year.
“Seychelles has a full role to play within the regional strategy and action plan as it makes available the national assets already in place for the fight against piracy,” said Minister Morgan, who was also accompanied by the Principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Maurice Loustau-Lalanne.
Starting immediately, COMESA is mandated to begin negotiations with the European Union to secure the financial resources required for the implementation of this plan.
The meeting also recognized the crucial role of the European Union Atalanta Operation, the states of the region, and other naval forces in combatting piracy and particularly commended Seychelles and Kenya as prosecuting states and encouraged others to engage.
Also present at the meeting were the ESA-IO ministers and representatives from the Comoros, Djibouti, Kenya, Mauritius, the Somali Republic, South Africa, Tanzania, Maldives, and the EU High Representative and Vice President of the European Commission, Baroness Catherine Ashton. The Republic of France also attended the meeting as a member of IOC.
The organizations who participated in this high-level meeting also included COMESA, EAC, IGAD, IOC, and SADC. In addition, representatives of the following countries and organizations were also present: People’s Republic of China, India, Pakistan, Russian Federation, and the US, UN, AU, INTERPOL, and IONS.
The Seychelles delegation also met with UN Special Adviser on Legal Issues, Mr. Jack Lang, earlier this week to discuss the Seychelles piracy experience.
The delegation used this special side meeting to fully brief Mr. Lang on the challenges Seychelles has been faced with in its lead role in the fight against piracy. All aspects relating to piracy were discussed, which included hostage negotiations, captures, and prosecutions, as well as the incarceration of convicted pirates.
During the discussions, particular attention was given to the way forward and strategizing for the onset of the new pirate season now that the Seychelles monsoon season has passed and pirate activity is expected to rise.
Following this meeting with Mr. Lang, Minister Morgan also met with Baroness Catherine Ashton to discuss the scale of work being done in Seychelles following her visit in May of this year. Baroness Ashton congratulated the continued efforts of the Seychelles government, particularly for the completion of the first Seychelles Comprehensive Maritime Security Plan of Action, which was validated during the International Symposium on Maritime Security held in July.
During the same month, Seychelles also hosted a second Regional Workshop on Piracy facilitated by the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) in order to develop a Regional Plan of Action for the fight against piracy.
The Baroness concluded the brief meeting by reaffirming both her personal commitment and that of the EU, to assisting Seychelles to further develop both its national and regional programs.