On Friday 10 January, the Seychelles Coast Guard, Air Force and Police Force, together with the EU Naval Force Somalia - Operation Atalanta and EUCAP Nestor, carried out a counter-piracy exercise in the Seychelles. The exercise involved the boarding of a suspected pirate skiff that had attacked a local fishing boat. The 'pirates' were disarmed and taken into custody, along with evidence from the skiff. The Seychelles Coast Guard then handed over the pirates and evidence to the Police Force.
The purpose of the exercise was to practice cooperation between the Coast Guard, Police Force and EU Naval Force in a counter-piracy operation and, in particular, routines on evidence handling. The EU Naval Force Italian frigate, ITS Libeccio, which is currently on a port visit to the Seychelles, took part in the exercise with a boarding team and embarked helicopter.
Speaking on completion of the exercise, the Commanding Officer of the ITS Libeccio, Commander Stefano Calvetti stated, "This was a highly successful exercise. Everything went as planned, and our Seychelles partners clearly demonstrated their high level of professionalism in fighting piracy." The Seychelles has been at the forefront among the countries of the region in the fight against piracy.
"The Syechelles is a show case for the regionin maritime security and counter-piracy," said Etinne de Poncins, Head of Mission for EUCAP Nestor. "As the Syechelles' builds its capacity, it is increasingly becoming an exporter of know- how and expertise. The common efforts of the maritime security agencies of the Seychelles and the EU are an important step in the fight against piracy"
EUCAP Nestor supports institutions involved in ensuring maritime security in the Seychelles such as the Coast Guard, Air Force, Police Force, and Supreme Court. EUCAP Nestor experts work alongside their Seychellois partners in providing advice and training. This contributes to developing the Seychelles capacities and capabilities to ensure maritime security, in particular counter- piracy and maritime governance. "We are very grateful to our European friends and parters for their support in maritime security and counter-piracy" said Leslie Benoiton, the Operation Officer of the Seychelles Coast Guard. "While the number of pirate attacks may have decreased, the threat of piracy remains real. We must remain vigilant and ready to supress it".
A primary objective of the exercise was to give the Coast Guard the chance to practice the collection and handling of evidence. EUCAP Nestor experts have been working closely with the Coast Guard to train their officers in evidence handling.
EUCAP Nestor advisors were joined by a Supreme Court Judge and two prosecutor who were on the Coast Guard vessel Andromache to witness the exercise and give their perspective on how to handle evidence so that it is admissible in court.
"Pirates must not only be stopped. Evidence must also be collected in a proper manner since this is key to successful convictions" said Lt Col Benoiton. "These exercises are extremely valuable as they provide opportunities for the Coast Guard to practice its routines for gathering evidence and handing it over to the police."