Today, the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the National Customs Directorate of the Republic of Uruguay, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to join forces to strengthen Law Enforcement Administrations’ (LEAs) capacities in the fight against illicit trafficking via General Aviation.
This is the first MoU signed within the framework of the WCO COLIBRI Project on Monitoring and Controlling General Aviation along the Cocaine Route. The MoU was signed by the WCO Secretary General, Mr. Kunio Mikuriya, and the Director General of the Uruguayan Customs Administration, Mr. Jaime Borgiani. The ceremony took place in Montevideo in the presence of Representatives of national Law Enforcement Administrations and of the Deputy Head of Mission of the EU Delegation in the country.
The WCO's COLIBRI project is funded by the European Union and forms part of the EU's Global Illicit Flows Programme. The Project geographically focuses on Latin America and the Caribbean, (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, Peru, and Dominican Republic), and West and Central Africa (Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Mauritania, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, and Mali).
In his video message to the ceremony, the WCO Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Ricardo Treviño Chapa, highlighted the WCO’s strong appreciation for the enhanced cooperation with Uruguay: “Today represents an important milestone for all those who are promoting and participating in the implementation of this Project and also and above all, for the International Law Enforcement Community. The Project has an inter-administrative view and it is an example of good cooperation to ensure security and, ultimately, peace.”
The Republic of Uruguay's law enforcement authorities have shown outstanding commitment to the Project. The National Drug Board (JDN), Customs, the Air Force, the National Directorate of Civil Aviation, the Police and the Navy are all actively cooperating and coordinating towards a successful implementation of the Project’s activities.
Director General Borgiani stated: "The core element of the WCO COLIBRI project is an ambitious capacity building component. The first COLIBRI online training was held for Law Enforcement Agencies of Uruguay in July 2020. This online training has been designed to provide a strong theoretical background in order to prepare officials for subsequent practical face-to-face trainings."
Beside the capacity building component, one of the Project’s main objectives is to develop new technologies to enhance controls on General Aviation: a new and innovative IT platform completely dedicated to General Aviation will be launched at the beginning of 2021. In this regard, the WCO Deputy Secretary General pointed out: “The MoU signed today establishes the ideal framework for the exchange of information.” He thanked all the participants for their commitment and collaboration. Due to the tremendous efforts and input from the WCO COLIBRI project expert team, an International Training Handbook dedicated to the control of General Aviation flights will be released during the course of 2021, enabling the participating law enforcement agencies in 14 countries to integrate general aviation control know-how into their standard training.
Tomas Pospisil, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation, said on the occasion: "The EU and the WCO have joined forces in the fight against organised crime, focusing on General Aviation. COLIBRI is part of the Global Illicit Flows Programme of the European Union, a programme that was launched last year to succeed the Cocaine Route Programme. We are glad to see that COLIBRI has been able to adapt to the current circumstances moving into distance learning mode while maintaining schedule and efficiency. Today, as said earlier by the WCO Deputy Secretary General, the EU is pleased to take part in the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding which marks an important milestone for the Law Enforcement Community and a major step in enhancing the partnership between Uruguay, the EU and the WCO to increase control of General Aviation."
Ultimately, the MoU signed today, represents a major step in enhancing the partnership between Uruguay and the WCO to control General Aviation.