Australia gives a boost to fight against piracy


27-June-2013

The signing of the agreement and MoU on board the HMAS Newcastle

The partnership agreement formalising Australia’s involvement in the centre’s anti-piracy fight was signed on Tuesday evening by the Minister for Home Affairs & Transport  Joel Morgan and the high commissioners of Australia and the UK, respectively Sandra Vegting and Lindsay Skoll.

The signing ceremony took place in the presence of Foreign Affairs minister Jean-Paul Adam on board the Australian warship HMAS Newcastle which was on a visit to Port Victoria as part of an ongoing six- month mission named ‘Operation Slipper’ which is aimed at countering piracy, terrorism and narcotics trade in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman.
HMAS Newcastle is the fourth Australian warship to visit Seychelles since last year.

During the same ceremony, Minister Morgan and Ms Vegting also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Seychelles and Australia on the conditions of transfer of suspected pirates and armed robbers as well as illicit property to Seychelles.

After the signing, Minister Morgan said it was important to have Australia as part of Rappicc and that this brings the organisation to another level of strength in the fight against piracy.

“Pirates are now feeling the heat, not only because of Rappicc but also because of vessels like the HMAS Newcastle which are patrolling the Indian Ocean. Piracy has hit hard against Seychelles economy by affecting the maritime industry at a difficult time when we were carrying measures as part of the economic reform programme. But thanks to our determination we have been able to successfully combat the threat. Rappicc is the recognition of the international community of Seychelles’ efforts in this area,” Minister Morgan said.

However, Minister Morgan warned that we should not remain stagnant and that we need to see how to adapt to changes and to new circumstances.

“That is why we welcome Australia into Rappicc. Seychelles has been very active in incarcerating pirates and transferring them back to Somalia. With the help of our partners, we will continue to take our responsibility to make sure that whoever is responsible faces justice.”

Ms Vegting described the signing of the agreement “as an important day in the relations between Seychelles and Australia and a bad day for pirates”.

“I am delighted to be signing this MoU and the Rappicc partnership agreement today on board the Australian warship HMAS Newcastle that is visiting the Seychelles for this occasion. The humanitarian, security and trade impacts of piracy in the Indian Ocean are a great concern for Australia and the international community. The Australian Civilian Corps deployment to the Rappicc will make a valuable contribution to the high priority objective of combating Indian Ocean piracy,” Ms Vegting said.

The high commissioner reminded that Australia had already been involved in joint anti-piracy activities with the Seychelles. These include training for Seychelles People’s Defence Forces (SPDF) personnel, the recent deployment of a law and justice specialist from the Australian Civilian Corps (ACC) to manage the professional development of the Rappicc and different bilateral meetings and conferences held in Australia and Seychelles.

She said that her country was delighted to join Seychelles and the United Kingdom as well as other partners such as the UNODC and Interpol in the fight against piracy, and that the partnership is a strong message to those involved in illegal activities in the region.

After the ceremony the crew of the HMAS Newscastle hosted the guests present to a small reception as a gesture of friendship between Australia and Seychelles.

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