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Spain Flexes Muscles In Gibraltar Waters

by Amanda Banks,, London

16 May 2011

Disputes over international waters around Gibraltar and Spain should not lead to inefficient monitoring and prevention of crimes around the coast of the two territories, an official statement from Gibraltar's government has said, urging cooperation between the maritime officials of both countries.

Following a repeat of previous incidents in late April, the government of Gibraltar stated:

"Following the incidents in May 2009 and in September 2010, in which RGP officers were interfered with in the exercise of their duties, and a suspected smuggler was helped by Guardia Civil officers to escape from lawful RGP custody in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters, the Gibraltar government said [at that time] that if co-operation in matters related to the waters was to be possible Spain had to return at least to the status quo as it existed before May 2009."

"In the past, on the many occasions when hot pursuit cases have occurred the Spanish Guardia Civil have advised the RGP and requested their presence and assistance. This did not occur on this occasion despite there being plenty of time to do so, given that the chase began a long way out in international waters. This is regrettable and unacceptable."

"This latest incident highlights the need for a co-operation agreement in the trilateral forum on terms acceptable to all sides, and which would prevent the recurrence of such incidents while permitting genuine co-operation in the fight against international trans-border crime. This requires a politically-agreed framework in which law enforcement agencies can cooperate with each other respecting their respective roles and jurisdiction in the waters for which each are responsible."

"But co-operation is clearly not viable side by side with a continuation of a jurisdictional turf war and Gibraltar cannot and will not compromise on its jurisdiction over our territorial waters."

"Nor can law enforcement officers be expected to maintain the necessary personal and professional relationships required to carry out the desired law enforcement co-operation if they have to grapple with the political dimensions of their work. These issues have to be worked out at political level."

"The Gibraltar government remains committed to exploring the possibility of agreements to co-operate on matters which relate to our waters, and, to that end, to engage at an appropriate, political level to try and establish the circumstances and environment in which such co-operation would be safe, possible, meaningful and realistic. This has to be on the basis of respect for Gibraltar authorities and their competence and jurisdiction in our waters."

"The RGP and other Gibraltar agencies enjoy the support of the government and the whole of Gibraltar in exercising Gibraltar’s jurisdiction in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters."

TAGS: marine | Gibraltar

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