Enhancing Maritime Capacity – a training year in Puntland

Throughout 2023, EUCAP Somalia’s Field Office Puntland dedicated efforts to strengthening the capabilities of the Puntland Maritime Police Force – Maritime Police Unit. The year-long training comprised two semesters covering fundamental and advanced levels, conducting monthly seminars.

The primary objective was to enhance the PMPF-MPU’s (PMPF-MPU) law enforcement capabilities, including various aspects of maritime and policing skills and specific maritime related matters such as safety and security at sea, seamanship, navigation, communication, search and rescue (SAR) techniques, visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS), Maritime Ship and Port Facility Security (MSPS), human rights, gender, environmental challenges, and internal investigation procedures. Practical exercises followed each theoretical session to apply the acquired skills. Recognizing the importance of Maritime English, an intensive 108-hour course was conducted in collaboration with the East African University.

Interagency cooperation in boat maintenance and engine repair training
Realizing the importance of a holistic approach to Coast Guard functions, a specialized team training was provided to mechanics of the Mogadishu-based Somali Police Force – Department of Coast Guard (SPF-DGC). FOPL facilitated the participation of two PMPF-MPU mechanics in this training as part of interagency cooperation.

Collaboration and Joint Exercises
EUCAP Somalia actively collaborated with EUNAVFOR Operation Atalanta to enhance the operational capabilities of Somali Maritime Law Enforcement Agencies. This collaboration led to joint exercises between PMPF-MPU and EUNAVFOR vessels outside Somalia’s territorial waters. Efforts were made to strengthen Somali capacities related to maritime awareness, SAR, and Man Overboard procedures.

Establishment of Maritime Operations Centre
Furthermore, EUCAP Somalia’s Field Office Puntland (FOPL) also established the PMPF-MPU Maritime Operations Centre (MOC) in Bossaso. This included refurbishment, drafting SOPs, and integrating the Indo-Pacific Regional Information Sharing (IORIS) platform, an internationally recognized information sharing and maritime domain awareness platform, provided by the EU project CRIMARIO II. MOC staff demonstrated proficiency in using the platform during various training sessions. An important step forward in operationalising MOC was the provision of VHF radios and the necessary licenses.

Adhering to international regulations mandated by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), licensing for Maritime Radios was necessary. With guidance provided by EUCAP, PMPF – MPU applied for and successfully obtained 23 licenses by early December. With these licenses in hand, the PMPF – MPU can now officially participate in maritime radio communication.

Training and Prosecution Cooperation
The Legal Reform Advisers at FOPL conducted extensive training sessions for PMPF-MPU officers, aiming to enhance their capabilities in handling internal misconduct investigations. The training centered on investigative methodologies, meticulous documentation, and the crucial aspects of human rights and gender-related discrimination. FOPL further supported the officers in formulating a Code of Conduct and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the Internal Affairs Unit (IAU). This initiative reflects PMPF-MPU’s demonstrates PMPF MPU’s commitment to fostering a positive work environment, without harassment, and preserving the organizational integrity, that EUCAP Somalia mentors promote.

This investment in IAU training and capacity building demonstrates PMPF MPU’s commitment to fostering a positive working environment without harassment and upholding organizational integrity that EUCAP-Somalia mentors promote.

Most recently, FOPL conducted advisory meetings to strengthen police-prosecution cooperation, emphasizing legal frameworks and best practices for investigating and prosecuting maritime crimes. Additionally, the PMPF-MPU officers participated in workshops addressing gender-based violence and human trafficking at sea, aligned with the global “16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” campaign.