Belgium and Panama to share more information in fight against drug smuggling
Belgium and Panama are joining forces in the fight against organised international drug trafficking. The countries have agreed to exchange more information, to increase the chance of catching drug traffickers. Seafarers will also be trained to become more resistant to drug trafficking, reported Belgian Justice and North Sea minister Vincent Van Quickenborne.
Many cargo ships sailing from international drug trafficking hotspots such as Colombia to the ports of Antwerp or Zeebrugge fly the Panamanian flag. This makes these ships and the personnel working on them especially vulnerable to infiltration by organised crime. It is therefore "of great importance that we reach agreements with the Panamanian authorities to tackle this problem together," Van Quickenborne explained.
Belgium and Panama will exchange more information on suspicious actions on and around ships, dubious cargoes and risky containers. Both countries will also keep each other informed when new smuggling methods are discovered. According to Van Quickenborne, 200,000 euros will be invested in the start-up of a pilot project to exchange information in a structured way.
Seafarers will also be trained to better recognise and report suspicious operations and cargoes. Belgium and Panama have committed to making procedures for reporting suspicious operations and cargoes simpler and more accessible. Shipping companies from both countries are also urged to adopt strict integrity policies and will recognise each other's seafarer training courses and the resulting certificates of competency.
© BELGA PHOTO KRISTOF VAN ACCOM