Maritime Security, Legal Framework and Regulatory Issues in the Gulf of Guinea

“The lack of legislation criminalizing offences like piracy and armed robbery at sea is a major problem in the effort to combat maritime crimes”

Maritime security threats are trans-boundary and mobile in nature thus pose a number of legal challenges for countries in asserting and exercising jurisdiction. This is further complicated not only by the vast and open nature of the seas where the crimes occur, but, also is legally and jurisdictionally carved into zone, which dictate and very often limit the extent one country may act against a crime.

Next is the fact that some countries especially in the Gulf of Guinea region do not have the necessary mix of enabling legislations and judicial capacity to prosecute maritime crimes. They lack legislation criminalizing offences like piracy and armed robbery at sea; a major problem in the effort to combat maritime crimes. Relatedly, is the problem of weak law enforcement due to a combination of factors: capacity deficit, inadequate personnel and resource. Such state of affairs has engendered conditions that allow for a number of illegal activities to emerge and thrive.

Noting that maritime crimes cannot be dealt with effectively by one State coupled with complex legal and regulatory issues, it behooves all concerned States to work together to improving security at sea. The focus of discussion therefore will be on exploring the possibilities of how to close jurisdictional and systemic gaps that hindered effective maritime security enforcement in the region. This will include encouraging States to consider departing from traditional grounds for exercising jurisdiction over maritime crimes to that of cooperation and alignment in criminalizing unlawful acts at sea and prescribe enforcement measures to be applied, as well as fashion out ways and means to support States to revise and update existing country level legislations and sanctions against crimes, that are poorly codified or to enact new legal regimes that are not only in line with international best practices but also harmonized in ways that strengthen regional enforcement capacity.

Oliver Stolpe

Will be leading the discussion on this theme at the conference