THE FIRST anniversary of the opening of the Seychelles Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecution and Intelligence Coordination Centre (RAPPICC) was marked Tuesday, February 25. It is located at what is now known as the National Security Campus on Bois de Rose Avenue in Seychelles.
Formerly the base of operations for the Seychelles Coast Guards, the National Security Campus also hosts the offices of the National Crime Services Division (NCSD) and the Seychelles Vessels’ Protection Department (SVPD) of the Seychelles Police.
The anti-piracy centre was officially opened one year ago by President James Michel and the British Foreign Office Minister, Alistair Burt (pictured). It benefits from various international partnerships such as that of Britain, USA, Australia, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
During its first year of existence, RAPPICC has been active in the fight against piracy in the Indian Ocean and has also played a key role in some major drugs bust. Among major events which have marked the centre during the year, we have seen the visit of the European Naval Force (EU Navfor) commander Rear Admiral Duncan Potts (pictured) and that of the UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov. The UN Report on Crime was also released in Seychelles.
On the operation side, the common effort of RAPPICC and other partners has resulted in the arrest of the Somali pirate kingpin known as “Loudmouth”, added to the various spoilt piracy attempts on commercial and fishing vessels.
RAPPICC has already been recognised worldwide with its actions highlighted as a concrete example of what Seychelles can do. Seychelles’ counter piracy efforts were commended at a recent IPI (International Peace Institute) Conferencein New York, where RAPPICC was mentioned as a good example.
Commenting on RAPPICC’s first anniversary, the British high commissioner, Lindsay Skoll, said that Seychelles has played a leading role in the fight against piracy and that the UK is happy to have offered its support.
“Seychelles has led in arresting, prosecuting, imprisoning and repatriating pirates. This leadership has been recognised across the region and this proven capability has been observed on the world stage. The UK is delighted to have been a supporting part of this and delighted that the considerable investment of money and expertise by the British government in RAPPICC has been an example to the many other countries from around the world that have joined us in the fight against piracy,” Mrs Skoll said.
RAPPICC is presently in a transitional phase, shifting its operations to that of transnational crime, through the efforts of member countries and other organisations and partners. With its new mandate, the name of the organisation will also change from RAPPICC to REFLECS-3. As the centre continues to generate key interest and with its new status, it will continue to contribute positively to combating piracy in the region.
The British high commissioner has seized the occasion to warn that piracy has not yet been eradicated, and has once more pledged her country’s support against this form of terrorism.
“The evolution from RAPPICC to REFLECS-3 and the new focus on broader areas of trans-national organised crime in no way suggests that piracy has been eradicated. To the contrary, the emergence of REFLECS-3 reflects a more mature understanding of the instability experienced in areas of the Horn of Africa and the many avenues that the criminally minded can pursue in an area free from the rule of law.
The British government will continue to support REFLECS-3 and the tremendous efforts being made by Seychelles to eradicate the scourge of piracy in the region and to come down hard on those who would spread terror across the region by exploiting the suffering of the Somali people,” Mrs Skoll said.
Original source: Seychelles Nation