Martin Polaine facilitated the 2020 UNODC Indian Ocean Forum for the Maritime Crime (IOFMC) Prosecutors’ Network, which was set up in 2015. The 9th Forum meeting was held remotely due to Covid-19 pandemic, with participants from the Indian Ocean region, as well as representation from the GMCP Pacific region. The discussions over the two days were structured around a simulated immersive exercise through Solve: Immersive, together with the electronic debriefing platform (Solve: Interactive) to aid their discussions.

The 9th meeting built upon the earlier forum discussions and examined the handling of intelligence led (proactive) investigations, use of covert techniques (and requisite frameworks) and human rights considerations. The aim was to draw out the experience and challenges that arise in the region on intelligence led investigations in the region and their impact on any subsequent prosecution.

The discussions highlighted a number of on-going challenges, for instance, some States lack a framework in national law that allows for law enforcement actions beyond the territorial sea, early engagement of prosecutors, evidence gathering practices (lack of dedicated exhibits officer) and lack of video/audio recordings of interviews with suspects.

Following the event, Martin Polaine submitted a number of recommendations for the 10th Forum discussion due to be held in late 2021.

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