Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe has stated that the continuing incidents of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea are the result of West African countries’ failure to coordinate their responses against seaborne attacks by lawless groups.
The statement comes in the wake of two incidents earlier this month wherein armed assailants boarded two vessels off the coasts of Togo and Benin in the Gulf of Guinea, which the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has declared as a major piracy hotspot.
Mr Gnassingbe said that while West African countries are successful in countering piracy individually, there remains an urgent need for those countries to “cooperate and take some measures,” particularly in instances wherein hostile groups that are being pursued by the maritime security forces of one state enter another state’s territorial waters to evade capture.
Such instances are all too common for Togo, which has a coastline of only 50 kilometres. Once a pursuit extends beyond the country’s territorial waters, a neighbouring state will then be requested to take over the chase.
The 15 states that comprise West Africa had signed the Yaoundé Declaration on the Gulf of Guinea Security, a formal instrument that stipulated increased collaboration against piracy, at the Summit of the Gulf of Guinea Heads of State and Government held in Cameroon in 2013.
The declaration included key resolutions calling for the creation of an inter-regional maritime safety and security coordination centre and the implementation of a new code of conduct concerning the prevention of piracy and other illegal maritime activities in the region.
Despite these measures, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre continues to consider the region as high-risk with nearly 82 per cent of crew kidnappings globally having occurred therein.
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