The operation mounted by British Special Forces to take control of the Liberian flagged Nave Andromeda off the Isle of Wight last week inevitably captured the public’s imagination.
Nothing generates headlines like a helicopter-borne rescue mission in British waters. But while the operation was clearly well executed and achieved its mission, the result no doubt of excellent planning and inter service co-operation, the incident should shine a spotlight on the increasing security and humanitarian challenge presented by international human trafficking and, more importantly, the need for much greater international co-operation in tackling the problem at source.
A recent article in the Times suggests that both Spain and France, the UK’s allies, rejected repeated requests by the crew for security assistance as the ship passed through those countries’ navigational waters, bound for Southampton – thereby leaving the problem for the British to sort out at a later stage in the ship’s journey. Multiple factors, including the complexities of maritime law and public opinion on immigration, no doubt contributed to Spain and France’s decision making on this occasion, but it shows how much work there is to do in this space.
But effective international security co-operation when dealing with this kind of incident is only part of the story – it is not the solution. We need to be working harder, with our allies, to tackle the problem at source. This includes providing real support to the many countries (particularly in the MENA region) where criminal networks base their trafficking operations. That support needs to cover the many complex challenges of security sector and judicial reform, police and security training (particularly in human rights), international co-operation and intelligence sharing. This should be the focus of the international community’s efforts.
Rose Partners is proud to be playing its part in developing the solution, working on a number of significant security sector reform projects in the MENA region, providing expert support on the frontline in the battle against human trafficking. This includes police training, change management, specialist operational support in the areas of intelligence, counter terrorism and counter organised crime. While much more needs to be done, we are seeing at first-hand how much these countries want to succeed in ending the scourge of human trafficking.
Clarke Jarrett is Strategic Director of Rose Partners and former Commander of SO15 at New Scotland Yard.