Mediterranean coastal States launch the idea of establishing a network of magistrates and prosecutors in the Mediterranean region to fight against illicit discharges from ships – Jun 08, 2009

REMPEC participated in a “Seminar on Environmental Legislation in the Mediterranean – Mediterranean Network of Prosecutors”, organized by the French Ministry of Justice with the support of the World Bank and of IDLO (International Development Law Organization) in Marseille, between 8 and 9 June 2009. The Seminar focused on illicit discharges from ships and ways and means to enhance judicial cooperation in the Mediterranean region to ensure effective prosecution of offenders. REMPEC presented the regional framework applicable to the Mediterranean region and the work carried out so far by the Centre in this field.

Delegations composed of magistrates and representatives from the competent national authorities of nine Mediterranean coastal States, namely, Algeria, Egypt, France, Italy, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, Spain and Tunisia, attended the Seminar. The Mission for the Union for the Mediterranean was also represented.

The main objectives of the Seminar were to exchange information and experience on detection of illicit discharges from ships and identification and prosecution of offenders, but also and mainly to discuss how best to enhance cooperation among the judicial authorities of the Mediterranean coastal States and the possible establishment of a network of magistrates in the region to facilitate this cooperation.

Whilst representatives in the Seminar acknowledged that gaps existed between the various countries of the Mediterranean and needed to be filled (legal applicable framework, lack of expertise and of human resources, lack of operational means and inadequacy of appropriate national coordinating institutions), they also agreed that judicial cooperation was called for in the Mediterranean and identified first working steps to reach this objective.

The participants in the Seminar agreed on the idea to establish a network of magistrates which could, among other things, help identify the authorities of the Mediterranean coastal States in charge of preventing and prosecuting marine pollution, assessing the needs in terms of training and organising training activities accordingly, facilitating operational cooperation and enhancing efficiency of investigation and prosecution as well as harmonizing penalties.

The necessary financial resources and aspects related to institutional coordinating to sustain the initiative were also discussed and next steps are now in the hands of the Mediterranean coastal States Governments, which are required to endorse the conclusions of the Seminar and to designate a national Focal Point. A meeting should be organized during the first half of 2010 in order to take stock of the situation and further develop actions.